Global Processing

Arrest warrant issued for energy executive

March 13, 2006

Bolivian authorities issued an arrest warrant last Thursday for the local president of Spanish-Argentine energy company Repsol YPF after he failed to testify in an oil-smuggling investigation, the Associated Press reports. A warrant for the arrest of Julio Gavito, who failed to appear in court and has also missed earlier appointments, was issued by the province of Santa Cruz, said Henry Figueroa, a spokesman for the city''s district attorney''s office. The company''s offices were also raided, he said. Two weeks ago, the Santa Cruz district attorney issued an arrest warrant for Gavito. It was later rescinded without explanation after the Spanish government expressed its concern to Bolivian President Evo Morales. The Bolivian customs agency has alleged that Repsol subsidiary Andina SA illegally exported more than $9.2 million (7.9 million euros) of oil — or 230,000 barrels — to Argentina and Chile between 2004 and 2005. The warrant comes the day after Repsol officials issued a news release saying a judge had ordered a suspension of the investigation. The judge said the customs agency and Andina should resolve the issue at an administrative level, not through a criminal investigation, it said. Repsol''s attorney Abel Montano said issuing an arrest warrant for Gavito and searching the company''s offices was illegal because of the judge''s supposed suspension order.