Oscar Solorzano says corruption has cost Venezuela $350 billion

An independent specialist says government officials in Venezuela have diverted some $350 billion from state coffers, which if true reveals the extent to which corruption plagues the country.  

Oscar Solorzano, a Peruvian lawyer at the International Center for Asset Recovery of the Basel Institute on Governance, said the $350 billion figure puts Venezuela atop the list of countries that have lost the most amount of money due to corruption, reported El Nacional. The country with the second-highest total, which Solorzano did not identify, has lost $100 billion to corruption, according to El Nacional. 

Freddy Guevara, a National Assembly representative and president of the Comptroller General Office's permanent committee in the Assembly, announced that he will submit a proposal aimed at recovering the state money that has been diverted into the coffers of corrupt politicians.

"We are in the presence of the most corrupt regime in the Western Hemisphere," said Guevara, who is also the national coordinator for the opposition party Voluntad Popular. "How does one explain that in a country with a fixed exchange rate, many officials have [bank] accounts in Andorra worth approximately $4 billion, enough to pay off the debt owed from the food sector, which is close to $1.6 billion? The answer is easy: corruption."

Guevara added that corruption at Venezuela's state-run oil company PDVSA has cost the government $10 billion.

InSight Crime Analysis

Although it is unclear how Solorzano came up with the $350 billion figure, Venezuela has for years been considered one of the most corrupt countries in Latin America, and even the world. In Transparency International's 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index, Venezuela ranked 158th of 167 countries worldwide, and was tied with Haiti as the most corrupt in the Americas. 

One of the main sources of corruption in Venezuela is the country's fixed exchange rates, which thanks to runaway inflation have created a huge gulf between the official currency exchange rates and the black market rate. The limited number of US dollars in Venezuela means importers often have to pay off officials at the country's currency control agency, known as CADIVI, for the right to trade local currency at the government's extremely low exchange rates. One Venezuelan businessman told the New York Times last year that importers pay bribes of up to several hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to receive permission to ship in a product from abroad. 

SEE ALSO: Venezuela News and Profiles

The importers  -- who frequently wildly inflate the value of their imported products in order to get access to a greater amount of US currency -- are then free to either pocket the prized US dollars or trade them on the black market at an enormous mark-up.

In addition to import schemes, high-level politicians and military officials are suspected of being deeply involved in Venezuela's lucrative cocaine trade. 

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power. In rural sectors, uniformed BACRIM armed with assault rifles still patrol in...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network. The BACRIM's roots lie in the demobilized paramilitary umbrella group the United Self-Defense...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...