He started in the famous oil company PDVSA in the 1980s. But, it was after his late cousin Hugo Chávez wan the 1998 election, and more precisely, between 2005 and 2014 when Asdrubal Chávez held lead roles like the president of PDV Marina, executive director and vice president of Commerce and Supply of PDVSA, all related to the management of the PDVSA oil fleet. The same fleet that nowadays lays largely dismantled, after making excessive payments in freight and other irregularities, according to an investigation carried out by the Alianza Rebelde Investiga (ARI) along with the Latin American journalism platform Connectas.
Asdrúbal Chavez took over as manager in charge of PDVSA in April 2020. But, from his previous positions, he had a lead role in the management, maintenance, and purchase of the oil tankers fleet for the Venezuelan company and for the chartering of third party cargo ships, negotiation in which millions of dollars were paid for ships that today are not in the sea.
One of the most striking examples of alleged Chavez mismanagement was Transportes del Alba (Transalba), a partnership between the Venezuelan oil company and a Cuban government company. The agreement forced to pay that company for 15 years rates that exceeded market prices for the use of two cargo ships that were 95% bought with Venezuelan money. As a result, around 177 million dollars in freight got trapped in a scheme that left the Cuban counterpart as the big winner.
The two tankers operated by Transalba (Panamax type ship) with the capacity of some 490,000 barrels of oil- are used mostly to transport crude to the Antilles and countries of Petrocaribe, an oil sales agreement with credit for Central America and the Caribbean created by the late President Hugo Chavez. In exchange for the oil, Chávez obtained diplomatic support for his government in the Organization of American States.
Auditors and officials linked to the chartering and management of ships warned in 2008, 2012, and again in 2017 under the Maduro administration about irregularities related to the arrangement of the shipping business in PDVSA and PDV Marina, including the payment of exorbitant fees, the favoring of contractors, the leakage of confidential information to service providers, the creation of overlapping monopolies, the absence of procedural protocols and the disbursement of expenditures without necessary backing.
Sources point to the $130 million spent in the leased for 87 months of two ships, the Eva Peron and the Juana Azurduy. Another case, the maintenance of the Manuela Saenz, in the same shipyard, a repair job that was extended in 2014 for 20 additional days to the period previously agreed, meaning an extra disbursement of 2.9 million Euros.
To read about the details of Asdrubal Chavez’s responsibility in the management of the fleet of ships, read the Asdrubal Chavez investigation, the dismantled fleet.