March 21, 2017 / 12:26 AM / in 9 months

Ecuador taps industry veteran to run Petroecuador amid graft scandal

QUITO, March 20 (Reuters) - Ecuador’s Petroecuador said on Monday it tapped an oil industry veteran to run the state-owned energy company, in the midst of a probe into alleged graft by former executives.

Jose Luis Cortazar, a naval engineer who previously ran Petroamazonas, another state-run oil company, will replace Pedro Merizalde, who had been in charge of Petroecuador for under a year.

Merizalde resigned for “personal reasons,” Petroecuador said in a statement, without elaborating.

The change in leadership comes as authorities in the Andean country are pushing cases against former executives in the oil company in a bribery scandal related to payment for contracts at the Esmeraldas refinery. The graft scandal has raised the ire of Ecuadorean voters as the ruling leftist party seeks to extend its 10-year hold on power in a presidential election next month. (Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Mary Milliken)

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