Maldonado future F1 unsure as motorsports funding scandal erupts in Venezuela

Pastor Maldonado during a Williams F1 road-show in Caracas

Pastor Maldonado during a Williams F1 road-show in Caracas

Venezuelan officials have frozen all disbursements of hard currency to automobile and motorcycle racers who compete abroad as they investigate a corruption scandal, which may impact the future of Pastor Maldonado in Formula 1.

Justice Minister Miguel Rodriguez told reporters that some motorsports athletes have obtained hard currency for “activities that were either fictitious or overpriced.”

Because Venezuela’s bolivar currency does not trade on global markets, Venezuelan businesses and individuals depend upon the state agency called Cadivi to obtain dollars, euros and other freely traded currencies.

Dollars have become so scarce in this oil-rich nation plagued by economic woes, including one of the world’s highest inflation rates, that on the black market they fetch more than seven times the official exchange rate.

Chvez with Pastor Maldonado in 2011

Hugo Chavez with Pastor Maldonado in 2011

The sports currency scandal is only the latest involving the gaming of Venezuela’s currency regime. One involves buying up airline tickets for travel abroad, which lets Venezuelans withdraw $3 000 a year at the official rate.

Sports Minister Alejandra Benitez said in a newspaper interview published Thursday that an initial investigation into the Cadivi disbursements found that one driver got $ 66 million. She did not name the driver.

She noted that more than 98 percent of her budget for foreign competitions goes to motor sports.

Among the affected drivers is E.J. Viso, who apparently canceled his participation in this weekend’s IndyCar Series’ season finale in Fontana, California. Viso was listed as being “ill.”

He could not be located for comment. In an interview with the El Nacional published Wednesday he said that he welcomed the investigation. He is mostly sponsored by the state oil company PDVSA.

Pastor Maldonado future in F1 uncertain

Pastor Maldonado future in F1 uncertain

Benitez was quoted in the interview in Ultimas Noticias as saying that she had discovered that her signature had been forged on 60 disbursement files for hard currency.

Maldonado who is bank rolled by PDVSA is reportedly also under investigation which could impact the Williams F1 team who have a substantial sponsorship partnership with PDVSA  ensuring Maldonado’s seat with the British outfit.

Despite having the world’s largest proven oil reserves, Venezuela’s socialist-led government has had major difficulties managing the economy. These grew more acute after the March 5 death of longtime President Hugo Chavez, who won broad support with expensive anti-poverty programs. (AP)

Subbed by AJN.

  • captain tortuga

    bwuahh,. i hope it is true.. it would be a shame for Williams, for Maldonado leaving F1 would be a real good thing for F1, since he is a true and foremost PAY-sitter. Not really talented. (to F1-standards of course)

  • Frodo

    If you pay peanuts you get monkeys. If you let them pay to ride you get someone with more money than talent.

  • Boycottthebull

    The FIA and F1 involved in a payments that are fictitious or overpriced? No I wont believe Bernie or Jean Turd would ever conspire about such things in our favourite sport. The Venezuelan Government must mean other motorsport surely??!! (hahahahaha)

  • BoycotttheBoycott

    Buh Bye, Maldo… smell you later!

  • Rick

    Hopefully this is the beginning of the end of all this crap! Get some real talent into the sport, not morons that can bankroll their way into a seat

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  • Fletcher

    Hey even Niki Lauda paid his way into F1. He didn’t even have a stellar career in the junior formulas so don’t be so judgemental. I hear even that new Russian kid brought lots of rubles to get his seat. Nothing new bro…

  • Gerry

    Unfair to call Maladonado untalented. He has been equal to Bottas. He is fast,just a little temperamental.

  • haha

    Gerry 100 % true, everybody forgets his win in Spain under huge pressure from Alonso. Ok I had my doubts that it was fixed in a way, it was a weird coincidence that Williams anniversary was just that weekend. Even if so, he is still fast just too temperamental and not that consistent.

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