A judge in Andorra has charged 29 Venezuelans with corruption – among them two former deputy ministers.
Prosecutors allege that they were part of a network of corrupt officials who received $2.3bn (£1.8bn) in bribes from companies in return for lucrative contracts with Venezuela’s state-run oil company, PDVSA.
They allegedly hid the money in the Banca Privada d’Andorra (BPA) bank.
BPA is defunct after it was named as a “primary money-laundering concern”.
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Judge Canòlic Mingorance in Andorra, a tiny financial haven located between France and Spain, charged the Venezuelans with taking kickbacks of up to 15% to facilitate contracts with PDVSA, Spanish daily El País reports [in Spanish].
A number of other high-ranking government officials have had sanctions placed on them and had their assets frozen. Among them is Industry Minister Tarek El Aissaimi, who has been blacklisted by the US for alleged drug trafficking.
Venezuela’s government says it is being attacked by “imperialist foes”. It blames US sanctions for the dire state of Venezuela’s economy, and the poor performance of PDVSA.