Venezuela President says may jail Heinz managers for "sabotage"

CARACAS, Dec 1 (Reuters) - The managers of Kraft Heinz’s Venezuelan operations may be imprisoned if found committing “sabotage”, President Nicolas Maduro said on state television Tuesday night.

The latest move against a multinational company in Venezuela comes days before legislative elections in which the ruling Socialist Party is expected to lose its majority in the National Assembly for the first time in a decade and a half.

It is not the first time the president has rallied against business leaders and ordered their imprisonment, following in the footsteps of his predecessor Hugo Chavez who expropriated small to multinational business operations in Venezuela.

Maduro said during a four-hour television program that workers had denounced the food and beverage company for “unjustifiably” paralyzing production lines.

“If the managers are committing sabotage, here’s the head of Sebin (Venezuela’s intelligence service) and he’ll put them in prison right away,” said Maduro, adding that officials would visit factories first thing Wednesday morning.

“Enough of the bourgeoisie. Imprison them.”

The economy is one of voters’ key concerns, with inflation thought to be in the triple digits and shortages of the most basic goods leading to long supermarket lines.

Critics see Maduro’s anti-business rhetoric as an attempt to drum up support ahead of Sunday’s vote, and say attacking businesses will only worsen shortages. (Reporting by Girish Gupta and Eyanir Chinea; Editing by Ryan Woo)