CARACAS: Venezuelan authorities arrested 11 executives of the country's largest private bank in an ongoing investigation into the country's soaring inflation, officials said.
The executives at Banesco are suspected of irregularities that devalued Venezuela's currency, said Attorney General Tarek William Saab, describing the probe as "surgical." Investigators have linked a large number of suspect Banesco accounts with addresses in Colombia and Panama.
Officials have previously accused a criminal network of smuggling Venezuelan bolivars across the border to manipulate the black market exchange rate.The bank's executive president Oscar Doval Garcia was among those arrested.Juan Carlos Escotet, president of Banesco International, denounced the action from Portugal.He was not among those detained.
"The way this has been treated is disproportionate," he said via Twitter, adding that the bank complies with all regulations.
The arrests are part of an operation to take down an alleged international network accused of manipulating the black market exchange rate, which values USD 1 at more than 10 times Venezuela's official exchange rate.
The operation has netted 134 arrests and led to 1,380 frozen bank accounts, the majority belonging to Banesco.
The bank executives' detention follows the arrest in April of two Chevron Corp.
employees based in Venezuela in what appeared to be the first such detentions of a private oil company's workers amid a growing anti-corruption purge.