Venezuela's Chavez Does What Washington Won't

Venezuela arrests bank chief close to government
Sat Dec 5, 2009 11:35pm EST
CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela arrested the brother of one of President Hugo Chavez’s senior ministers on Saturday, the latest move in a clean-up of the financial system that has closed banks and pointed to corruption close to the government.
Police arrested Arne Chacon Escamillo, president of one of seven small banks seized by the authorities this week, on unspecified charges linked to irregularities in the bank he ran in South America’s top oil exporter.

“Chacon Escamillo, the president of Banco Real, was detained in the afternoon of Saturday, November 5, after handing himself in,” the attorney general’s office said.

The arrest of the banker, whose brother Jesse Chacon has worked with Chavez for nearly twenty years and is now science minister, shows the president clamping down on a new class of businessmen made rich by their connections to the government.

In a turbulent week for Venezuela, the government took control of the seven banks owned by such businessmen, who are known as “Boli-bourgeoise,” in reference to Chavez’s idol and Venezuela’s independence hero Simon Bolivar.

Chavez has sought to calm depositors and investors after he sent Venezuela’s bonds and currency tumbling in value this week by twice threatening to nationalize the financial system if banks broke rules.

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