Venezuela's Maduro suspends PDVSA restructuring committee after minister quits

Rally to mark the International Youth Day, in Caracas
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a government rally to mark Youth Day, in Caracas, Venezuela February 12, 2023. REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria/File Photo

CARACAS, March 27 (Reuters) - Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro suspended a committee he had appointed to restructure state oil firm PDVSA under the supervision of Tareck El Aissami, the oil minister who resigned last week amid an expanding anti-corruption probe into the company and the judiciary.

Maduro last week ended the 2020 decree that had created the committee, following El Aissami's resignation and extension of the investigation which began in October, according to the country's official gazette, dated March 22.

The probe has led to 10 officials and 11 businessmen being arrested and 11 more wanted.

PDVSA President Pedro Tellechea was appointed as the new oil minister last week, giving him wide control of the industry. Maduro said last week a new restructuring process must begin in PDVSA, formally known as Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., to audit its accounts and uncover corruption.

The new minister must safeguard "the interests of the Republic," the gazette showed.

PDVSA's restructuring commission was created to adopt urgent measures to "protect the industry from imperialist aggression." Its functions were expanded last year.

The probe, revealed last week, is linked to PDVSA's heavy losses in recent years, when tankers left the country with cargoes that had not been paid for in full, officials have said.

PDVSA has accumulated $21.2 billion in accounts receivables since 2020, documents viewed by Reuters showed. The internal disclosure of the enormous amount of unpaid sales - about 84% of PDVSA's total value of invoiced shipments - revealed for the first time the depths of revenue losses due to the withdrawal of established buyers.

Reporting by Deisy Buitrago and Mayela Armas; Writing by Carolina Pulice; Editing by Richard Chang

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