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No end in sight, families of Citgo executives jailed in Venezuela push for answers



Carlos Añez, 34, says he was upset when his stepfather, and Citgo executive, was called for a last-minute meeting in Venezuela the weekend before Thanksgiving 2017. His stepfather, Jorge Toledo, vice president of supply and marketing at time, would miss his granddaughter's fourth birthday and possibly Thanksgiving if the meeting ran late, as they usually did.

Citgo, based in Houston, is the US subsidiary of the Venezuelan state-owned oil giant Petroleos de Venezuela, or PDVSA. For some of the executives, it was not unusual to travel to Caracas for meetings.

"What was strange was that when he arrived at the airport, all the Venezuelan American vice presidents were there. The others were excluded, "Añez recounted. "

Once in the conference room at PDVSA headquarters in Caracas, armed and masked security agents arrested the men ̵

1; five American citizens and one US

The families of executives, with deep roots in Texas and Louisiana, were perplexed when later that day, Venezuelan chief prosecutor, Tarek William Saab, announced at a news conference that executives had been detained on charges stemming from a

The Toledo Family

Since then, the family has been forced to refinance the Citgo's debt. the men are held in the basement of Venezuela's military counterintelligence agency and have described their conditions as human rights violations. At one point, 60 people shared a space meant for 22. The lights are kept 24 hours a day, and they are allowed outdoors for 20 minutes every six to eight weeks.

Until families have been allowed to send food almost a year later, the men's diet consisted of rice and pasta, causing Toledo to lose 50 pounds. Now at 125 pounds, he has chronic bronchitis, pre-diabetes and hypertension that have gone untreated. Phone calls are short and sporadic. Añez said his stepfather and the other detainees have not called home since March.

At home, times are tough. Citgo cut the executives' salaries after six months. Aneez's mother, who takes care of her mother-in-law full time, is now selling her house because she does not have a income.

The deal that never happened

Citgo is Venezuela's largest foreign asset and the eighth- largest refiner in the US Saab, Venezuela's general attorney, accused the six Citgo executives of signing off on a deal to refinance the company's debt with terms unfavorable to Venezuela, and offering Citgo as collateral. The alleged agreement was with the investment fund Apollo Global Management and the Dubai-based Frontier, a company that was working on source deals for Apollo

Documents viewed by NBC News dating back to February 2017 show refinancing negotiations were approved by PDVSA's board. 19659002] But a deal was never signed. In 1967, Saab claimed that the Swiss-based firm Mangore Sarl had acted as an intermediary in the bidding process. the deal and said there was a "presumed" link between the firm and Citgo executives.


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