CARACAS, March 20 (Reuters) - Venezuela has charged the presidents of two subcontractors with corruption for overbilling in equipment sales at the OPEC country’s main oil-exporting port, the public prosecutor’s office said on Monday.
The former manager of state oil company PDVSA’s Jose terminal has already been jailed over the purchase of two monobuoys costing $76.2 million.
A monobuoy is a floating platform where vessels, especially oil tankers, too large to get into port can moor and unload.
The presidents of Venezuela-based Castillo Max and Guevara Training, Miguel Castillo and Hernan Guevara respectively, have been arrested and charged with graft over equipment sales in a tribunal in the eastern oil-producing state of Anzoategui, according a statement from the public prosecutor’s office.
Further information was not immediately available.
Caracas-based Petroleos de Venezuela SA and Castillo Max did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It was not immediately possible to contact Guevara Training, which is not registered in Venezuela’s register of government contractors and does not appear to have a website.
PDVSA has said repeatedly that it was taking steps to combat corruption, which has affected Venezuela and its oil industry for decades.
Opposition parties have long maintained that PDVSA has been crippled by financial malfeasance under the current socialist government. They have also said that corruption during a major oil boom has worsened the brutal economic recession in Venezuela.
A congressional probe in October said $11 billion had gone missing from PDVSA.
Union leaders said they had denounced Castillo Max to PDVSA bosses for at least three years due to poor maintenance of loading arms at Jose.
“We had said that Castillo Max should be investigated because it is responsible for the destruction of this terminal due to maintenance ... that wasn’t being done,” said Eudis Girot, a PDVSA union leader in Anzoategui, on Monday.
“We want these investigations to deepen,” Girot told Reuters.
Three separate industry sources, who requested anonymity because they had not been authorized to speak about the matter to the media, said Castillo Max was relatively unknown before it emerged as a major PDVSA contractor a few years ago. (Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Tom Brown)