Venezuela’s president has put the blame for the corruption scandal that hit the country last year on US attempts to infiltrate high-level positions in the country’s oil industry.
“I have serious proof of US diplomatic staff in this country trying to bribe their way into key positions of the petroleum industry, to control strategic information and influence key process there,” Maduro told a meeting of oil workers on Tuesday citing unclassified US State Department and CIA documents, TeleSur reported.
Speaking at a meeting of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela in Caracas earlier in the day, Maduro called for an “economic counteroffensive” against what he described as US-led economic war that has seriously harmed the country’s economy.
“Now we will continue with an economic counteroffensive, the most difficult thing… we are going to win this battle for economic peace, for stability, for prosperity, and we are going to go the length in the fight against the criminal economy,” Maduro said.
Dozens of senior executives of the state-owned PDVSA oil and gas company have been arrested as part of ongoing anti-corruption investigations.
Last year saw the arrests of former Oil Minister Eulogio del Pinon and ex-PDVSA chief Nelson Martinez on charges of corruption, as well as a group of senior executives of PDVSA’s US division Citgo.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), in April, Venezuela’s daily oil output was down to 1,42 million barrels – the lowest since the early 1950s.
IEA experts believe that daily production may fall by another several hundred thousand barrels before the end of this year.