Caracas: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro appointed Pedro Rafael Tellechea, the head of state oil company PDVSA, as the country's new oil minister on Tuesday, March 21, a day after his predecessor resigned amid an extensive corruption investigation centred on the company. A Former Minister, Tareck El Aissami, resigned on Monday following the arrest of several government officials and judges in connection with the graft scam.

According to sources familiar with the situation, more than 20

lower-level PDVSA officials have also been detained in recent days. Mr.Tellechea has been the head of PDVSA since January and has ordered an audit into the massive losses suffered last year as tankers left the country without proper cargo payments. 

The government has provided few details about alleged corruption at the company, but a source said on Monday that the PDVSA arrests are linked to an investigation into the cargoes.

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