(Adds details on raids on homes of petrochemical company board members)
CARACAS, March 4 (Reuters) - Venezuela has arrested the head of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela’s lubricants division on corruption allegations, according to a statement read on state television on Wednesday.
Separately, intelligence police raided the homes of several current and former executives of PDVSA’s Colombian petrochemicals subsidiary Monomeros named by opposition leader Juan Guaido, three people with knowledge of the matter said.
The authorities raided properties in Caracas and elsewhere in Venezuela of executives who now reside in Colombia, the sources said.
The moves come amid a shakeup at PDVSA after President Nicolas Maduro last month named a committee to restructure the OPEC nation’s oil industry, which is struggling under U.S. sanctions designed to force Maduro’s ouster as well as years of mismanagement, corruption, and declining cash flow.
Last week, authorities detained two managers in PDVSA’s supply and trading division, later accusing them of collaborating with Washington. And the government has moved to seize the assets of six private shipping agents over debt owed to PDVSA.
In the statement, the restructuring committee named by Maduro accused Oscar Aponte, the president of PDVSA’s VASSA engine oil and lubricants division, of involvement in contraband of the company’s products and collecting commissions on overpriced transit contracts.
Reuters could not immediately reach Aponte for comment or determine if he was being represented by an attorney. Relatives of the two managers arrested last week denied the allegations against them, arguing they were being singled out for fighting against corruption within PDVSA.
Neither PDVSA nor Venezuela’s oil or information ministries immediately responded to requests for comment on the raids of the homes of the Monomeros board members.
Guaido, the head of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly who is recognized by the United States, Colombia and dozens of other countries as the South American country’s legitimate president, last year wrested control of Monomeros from Maduro and named his own interim board.
“Surprisingly, after nearly a year, the Sebin [intelligence police] have started a type of simultaneous hunt at the properties of the executives,” said one of the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The executives currently live in Colombia but some still own property in Venezuela.
Reporting by Vivian Sequera, Luc Cohen, and Mircely Guanipa; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Diane Craft