Venezuela Arrests Former Oil Minister And Ex-Head Of PDVSA

As OPEC is set to celebrate the extension of the cartel's oil production cut for another year in Vienna, Venezuela former-oil minister and the former head of the now defaulted state energy company PDVSA have no reasons to celebrate following their overnight arrests in Venezuela.

Taking a page out of the Saudi "anti-corruption" playbook, Reuters reports citing two sources that Venezuelan authorities detained former Oil Minister Eulogio del Pino and former state oil company PDVSA president Nelson Martinez overnight as a part of a broad anti-corruption probe.

Del Pino, a prolific user of Twitter, last tweeted on November 27, seemingly in good spirits.

The two men had been removed from their posts on Sunday and replaced by a major general, giving the already powerful military further clout, albeit in a sector reeling from under-investment and sliding output. Attention is also on Rafael Ramirez, who was Venezuela's oil czar for a decade and under whom both Del Pino and Martinez ascended.

Maduro fired him from his job as representative to the United Nations on Tuesday, according to sources with knowledge of the information, and summoned him back to Caracas.

It was not immediately clear why the two men were detained. One source in PDVSA said it appeared they were taken for questioning, while another company official said they were "implicated" in the graft investigation. Their detention is the biggest development to date in a months-old probe at the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries member. 

As reported previously, the Maduro regime has been cracking down on PDVSA personnel, scapegoating the company for the nation's energy woes, and replacing company professionals with members of the military in what appears to be a slow-motion military coup which preserves army control of Venezuela's biggest asset.

State prosecutor Tarek Saab was due to hold a press conference to announce new arrests later on Thursday.