Super network of Corruption in Venezuela

Eduardo Salcedo-Albarán*  & Luís Jorge Garay-Salamanca**

In 2019 Venezuela had the same Perception Corruption Index of Yemen, the country with “the largest humanitarian crisis in the world”[1]. With a score of 15/100 and ranking 176 among 179 countries, even North Korea and the Democratic Republic of Congo had a higher score than Venezuela: 18/100.[2]  The low Perception Corruption Index in Venezuela reflects the general opacity, clientelism and mismanagement that characterize most sectors and branches of the Venezuelan public administration today; conditions that sustain the most complex network of macro-corruption and institutional cooptation in the world.

A corruption network is a model that informs how individuals and companies -referred to as nodes/agents- interact to execute corrupt acts and accomplish other illicit objectives. Elaborated through a criminal networks analysis, those models allow an understanding of the subnetworks, the central nodes/agents, the levels of responsibility, and the resources flowing across indirect paths.

Before modeling and analyzing the situation of corruption in Venezuela, Lava Jato was the most complex network of transnational corruption known through empirical analysis. Originating in Brazil with eleven of the most powerful companies in the country, Lava Jato extended across Latin America involving local companies, as well as mayors, governors and presidents who received bribes as donations during electoral processes. Donations and direct bribes paid to candidates and public servants across Latin America reached approximately USD $800 million, according to judicial investigations conducted until 2019.

Considering the institutional effects of Lava Jato in various Latin American countries, in 2018 Vortex Foundation partnered with the Brazilian civic organization Humanitas360 to analyze the case in Brazil; as a result, a network of 906 nodes/agents that established 2,693 interactions was identified.[3] Then, in 2019 Vortex Foundation partnered with the Peruvian chapter of Transparency International, Proética, to analyze Lava Jato including Peru; the result was a network with 1,399 nodes/agents who established 3,758 interactions.[4] Both networks were defined as “macro” because their complexity reached the extension and diversity of macro-criminal networks[5].

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