Five Venezuelan officials charged over China fund embezzlement
Venezuela has arrested five officials and charged them with embezzling US$84 million from a China-financed development fund administered by state-run development bank Bandes.
President Nicolas Maduro did not say if the case was linked to charges by US authorities earlier this year that employees of a New York broker-dealer had created an elaborate kickback scheme to ensure it won Bandes' bond-trading business.
"We have captured five people in raids that we carried out in Caracas linked to the embezzlement of US$84 million from the Chinese Fund and Bandes," Maduro said.
Venezuela has received at least US$36 billion in loans from China that have helped finance two economic development funds focused largely on infrastructure projects. Maduro did not specify which of the funds was involved.
As of last month, US attorneys had filed charges against four people, including a senior Bandes official and employees of broker-dealer Direct Access Partners over the kickback scheme.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission brought a separate civil complaint against four people, two of whom were also named in the criminal case.
Maduro has vowed a concerted effort to stamp out corruption, pointing to recent arrests of senior officials from state companies and government ministries.
None have been heavyweight leaders of the leftist "Chavismo" movement forged by the late president Hugo Chavez, his mentor. Opposition leaders have said he is avoiding going after influential ruling party leaders.