Spain arrests ex-Venezuelan minister on U.S. warrant

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish police have arrested former Venezuelan minister Javier Alvarado Ochoa on a U.S. warrant as part of an investigation into money-laundering involving the Latin American nation’s state oil company PDVSA, court officials said.

Alvarado Ochoa served as minister for electric power development under Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s late predecessor, Hugo Chavez.

Maduro has described the U.S. investigation as politically motivated, and accuses Washington of seeking to undermine his government.

“(Alvarado Ochoa) is going to await in jail while his extradition is being processed,” said an official at the Spanish court that deals with extradition requests.

Reuters was not immediately able to contact the ex-minister or his representatives for comment.

He is the second high-profile Venezuelan to be arrested in Spain in less than a month.

Last month police arrested Hugo Carvajal, a former head of Venezuelan military intelligence, on drug trafficking charges, also on a U.S. warrant. Washington said it believes Carvajal has a “treasure trove” of details he is willing to share about Maduro.

The administration of Donald Trump has slapped sanctions on PDVSA and several figures in Maduro’s government in a bid to pressure him to step aside so opposition leader Juan Guaido can take office and call elections.

Maduro has cracked down on Guaido allies since putting down an attempted uprising last week.

Reporting By Belen Carreno, writing by Andrei Khalip, editing by John Stonestreet