February 2, 2015 / 8:50 PM / 4 years ago

Venezuela arrests PDVSA oil executive on corruption charges

CARACAS, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Venezuela has arrested state oil company PDVSA’s production boss for the oil-heavy western part of the country on corruption charges, a week after arresting an oil ministry employee, reported to be his sister, on similar suspicions.

Jose Luis Parada is suspected of “administrative irregularities in contracting companies for the distribution of gasoline,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement on Monday.

The news follows last week’s arrest of oil ministry official Nubia Parada, in charge of overseeing the domestic fuel market, on suspicion of corruption.

Local media have reported the two Paradas are siblings.

Intelligence officials arrested Jose Luis Parada earlier on Monday at an air base in the Western state of Zulia near the Colombian border. He will be brought to court in the coming hours, the statement added.

Jose Luis Parada previously ran PDVSA Servicios, which provides services to the company’s oilfields.

Officials at PDVSA, the oil ministry and the prosecutor’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

The OPEC nation’s heavy fuel subsidy leaves gasoline costing just 2 cents at the strongest official exchange rate, spurring a lucrative smuggling business with neighboring Colombia.

President Nicolas Maduro last month said Venezuela needs to raise fuel prices to limit losses to state coffers which have been estimated at around $12 billion per year. (Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Richard Chang)

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