Petroecuador’s head resigns after prosecutors raid offices

By Alexandra Valencia

QUITO (Reuters) – Hugo Aguiar, general manager of Ecuador’s state oil company Petroecuador, resigned after his home was among locations searched by the attorney general’s office in a corruption probe, the country’s energy minister said on Friday.

Earlier in the day, prosecutors raided company offices and an office of the presidency as part of an investigation into alleged corruption.

“Tomorrow we are meeting at 10 am for an extraordinary meeting,” Energy Minister Fernando Santos told Reuters by phone, referring to the company’s board of directors. “There we will accept (the resignation) and appoint an interim, we will appoint an interim so that we can look at the profile at our leisure to find a permanent replacement.”

Aguiar announced his “voluntary and irrevocable resignation” in a letter to the Coordinator of Ecuador’s Public Enterprises, submitted to the Department of Energy and the National Planning Secretary and viewed by Reuters.

The letter contained no further details and it was not immediately possible to reach Aguiar for comment.

Although President Guillermo Lasso ordered public company executives to vacate their positions in January amid reports of possible corruption at some companies, Petroecuador’s board of directors only confirmed Aguiar in his post last week.

Prosecutors also targeted Petroecuador’s offices in raids last year after receiving information from US authorities about a case involving a former company official. The former energy secretary resigned as part of a separate probe into bribery allegations, which he denies.

“The Attorney General’s Office and the police are searching the Petroecuador Administrative and Prosecutor’s Offices and the Judicial Undersecretary of the Presidency in Quito,” the Attorney General’s Office said on Twitter.

The office clarified in a later statement that the raids, which included various apartments, were part of an investigation into an alleged corruption case involving Petroecuador that began in August 2022.

Lasso’s communications office said it would fully cooperate with prosecutors.

“The government reaffirms its zero tolerance for corruption. The government reiterates its commitment and firm stance in favor of transparency,” the statement said on Twitter.

Petroecuador retweeted the government’s statement, adding in its own post that its board would hold an urgent meeting.

(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia, writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Leslie Adler and David Gregorio)


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