11 August 2013.

Nicolás Maduro was elected president after the death of former president Hugo Chávez. Maduro was foreign minister in the Chávez regime. Maduro said that fighting corruption was his priority.

One of the biggest allegations surrounds Ferrominera, a state-owned iron-ore mining company in the south-eastern state of Bolívar. Ferrominera’s chairman, Radwan Sabbagh, was arrested in June accused of “bleeding the company dry” by the president. Yamal Mustafá, a businessman with close ties to Bolivar’s state governor; Francisco Rangel Gómez was also arrested. The army colonel sent to investigate the case in 2011 is alleged to have made tens of millions of dollars blackmailing Ferrominera’s managers and Mr, Mustafá. He, too, is now awaiting trial.

Information leaked to federal investigators and local media from army intelligence revealed an astounding $ 1.2 billion worth of scams. These include sales of ore to intermediaries at a fraction of its cost in exchange for huge kickbacks.

Recently, Ricardo Menéndez, the industries minister had admitted that there was “much more corruption in Ferrominera than has been made public”.

The black market rate for the dollar is five times the official rate of 6.3 bolivars. Jorge Giordani, the planning minister, and Edmée Betancourt, the Central Bank governor, estimate that $ 15 to $20 million would have been funneled to fake companies for fraudulent import schemes.

Diosdado Cabello, speaker of parliament and leader of the ruling socialist party, is said to have a vast amount if illicit finances through his brother who is a tax authority and Mr. Cadivi, the foreign exchange regulator. Diosdado Cabello is a potential rival to Mr Maduro.