QUITO — President Guillermo Lasso has dismissed state oil company Petroecuador’s CEO Ítalo Cedeño, with a replacement still to be announced, following an interview with online newspaper La Posta in which Cedeño acknowledged that his wife was involved in the appointment and dismissal of executives at the oil company.
Lasso announced the move on his Twitter account on Monday night, without stating the reasons for Cedeño’s dismissal:
In the interview, Cedeño said Lasso was aware that his wife, Martha Morlás, “advised” him to appoint officials at the state-owned company.
In an alleged meeting with Lasso at the government palace, Cedeño said he told Lasso: “what has been said about me is that in the first month, and I admit it, my wife advised me on honest officials, and asked me to remove corrupt officials. And I told her not to interfere in anything in Petroecuador because she is hurting me”.
Cedeño, a petroleum engineer with more than 50 years in the industry, assumed the role in December 2021 and accelerated processes to increase the country’s oil production, launching tenders to reopen closed wells, as well as expanding oil spot sales.
Cedeño had filed a complaint before the Prosecutor General’s Office to investigate allegations of influence trafficking and bribery related to a series of arrests and searches prosecutors carried out in late July, Petroecuador said in a text message on Sunday.
As the first case of graft under this presidency, it’s a black eye for Lasso, said René Ortiz, oil minister during the previous administration and a former OPEC secretary general.
With information from Bloomberg News