Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, he who would ban golf courses as flippant capitalist playthings, is now threatening to nationalise banks that violate state regulations, amid a banking scandal that has already seen the government take over four lenders that account for 5.7% of Venezuela's banking sector. But it looks less like politics and more like a straight race between crooks and cops this time, after the banks in question were earlier bought by a group of investors involved in the state food industry, and who have now been arrested on charges of misappropriating deposits and providing loans to other businesses in which they were investors. Chavez needed to act because of opposition allegations that the previous owners’ business connections with state-run businesses were evidence of government corruption and cronyism. The National Banking Council, a private banking association, supports the government takeover, saying the initiative is aimed at protecting depositors. Read more: BusinessWeek
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