Caracas — Venezuela’s Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami announced on Monday his resignation from the post, amid a wave of arrests following corruption investigations in the country’s oil industry on the weekend.
“By virtue of the investigations that have been initiated into serious acts of corruption at [Venezuelan state-owned oil company] PDVSA, I have made the decision to submit my resignation with the purpose of supporting, accompanying and fully backing this process,” the official said on Twitter.
El Aissami, 48, who had been absent from official events and his social networks in recent weeks after a meeting with Igor Sechin, director of Russian oil company Rosneft and the new president of PDVSA, Rafael Tellechea, added that he would make himself available to the leadership of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (Psuv) in order to support the legal proceedings.
The also vice-president of economy for the oil industry made no reference to his other post, which he assumed in 2018, entrenching himself as one of the most powerful figures of President Nicolás Maduro’s administration..
Tareck El Aissami had been in charge of the Oil Ministry since 2020, after having held the position of Vice-President of the Republic between 2017 and 2018.
In February 2017, the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) included him on its list of sanctioned individuals, accusing him of “playing a significant role in international drug trafficking”.
Then in 2019, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed him on its most-wanted list, with a $10 million reward for his capture.
El Aissami was also in charge of the Ministry ofthe Interior and Justice between 2008 and 2012, leaving office to participate in regional elections, and was elected governor of Aragua that year.
Since Friday afternoon, the National Anti-Corruption Police, a body created in 2014 by the government, has carried out a series of arrests for alleged corruption cases in PDVSA, involving judges and the superintendent of cryptoassets, Joselit Ramírez, an ally of El Aissami.