Ex-Venezuela PDVSA Boss Denies $11B Corruption Allegations

Reuters

CARACAS, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Former PDVSA President Rafael Ramirez denied as "irresponsible lies" a Venezuelan congressional investigation accusing the state oil company of corruption to the tune of $11 billion during his decade-long tenure.

The National Assembly's comptroller commission on Wednesday accused PDVSA of failing to account for the money, lost it says between 2004 and 2014 when Ramirez was at the helm.

"I want to totally DENY the lies, declarations and infamies of those lawmakers and the 'supposed report,'" said Ramirez in a statement published on the website of the Venezuelan mission to the United Nations, which he now leads. (https://goo.gl/dgXbi7)

"(They) act with absolute irresponsibility and brazenly lie in order to push forward a campaign to discredit and morally lynch the leaders of the revolution," he added in the 1,000-word response.

PDVSA has been the linchpin of Hugo Chavez's revolution for 17 years, currently providing 94 percent of export revenue.

Low oil prices, however, have unveiled weaknesses in the model and the country is undergoing a major economic and social crisis.

The government blames these problems on an "economic war" waged by the opposition.

PDVSA has said in the past it is victim of a right-wing campaign, led by the United States and international media, to sabotage socialism.

The report was presented on Wednesday by commission president Freddy Guevara, a member of one of Venezuela's most hardline opposition parties.

PDVSA itself has not responded to the allegations made by Guevara's team and did not respond to a request for comment by Reuters.

The congressional investigation focused on 11 cases, ranging from scandals in an Andorran bank and PDVSA pension funds to alleged overpricing in purchases of oil equipment.

(Reporting by Girish Gupta; Editing by Bernard Orr)

Copyright 2016 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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