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Venezuela's president calls for prosecution of billionaire business magnate

FILE - In this Aug. 24, 2015 file photo, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro gives a news conference at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela. On Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015, Maduro called for prosecution of Lorenzo Mendoza, Venezuela’s biggest businessman, president of the Empresas Polar conglomerate, for allegedly conspiring to destabilize his government. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano, File)

FILE - In this Aug. 24, 2015 file photo, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro gives a news conference at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela. On Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015, Maduro called for prosecution of Lorenzo Mendoza, Venezuela’s biggest businessman, president of the Empresas Polar conglomerate, for allegedly conspiring to destabilize his government. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano, File)  (The Associated Press)

President Nicolas Maduro is calling for prosecution of Venezuela's biggest businessman for allegedly conspiring to destabilize his socialist government.

Lorenzo Mendoza is president of the Empresas Polar conglomerate that is the nation's largest food supplier. Last week state TV aired a phone conversation of Mendoza with Venezuelan economist Ricardo Hausmann, a Harvard University professor who suggested the oil-rich nation needs a $40 billion International Monetary Fund bailout to overcome a deep crisis marked by triple-digit inflation and an estimated 10 percent shrinking of the economy this year.

Maduro complained to state TV Sunday that Mendoza seemed to be speaking on behalf of the government and conspiring with its opponents.

Mendoza said he regularly speaks to economists across the political spectrum and accuses the government of violating his privacy.