Two local executives of US oil giant Chevron have been released from a Venezuelan prison, after being held since April when a corruption probe was launched into the oil sector, authorities and the company have announced.
“They are free,” the Venezuelan state prosecutor told Reuters, confirming their release and stating that both of the executives had been given unspecified alternatives to prison.
Carlos Algarra and Rene Vasquez were the first executives working for a foreign firm to be detained by intelligence agents after the government corruption purge started last year. As a result of the purge, more than 80 executives from Petroleos de Venezuela and partners have been arrested.
After the incident, Chevron pulled several members of its staff out of Venezuela, according to Reuters.
Chevron, based near San Ramon in California, issued a statement saying: “Our colleagues are in good health and have been reunited with their families.”
The oil company has around 150 employees in its Puerto la Cruz office, the branch where Algarra and Vasquez worked, and has two other offices in Venezuela.
The Venezuelan oil industry has suffered significantly in the last months and it was revealed today that the country's crude export was lagging a month behind schedule with a backlog of 24m barrels of crude.
Last year, Chevron's Venezuela earnings dropped 18 per cent to $329m (£245m).