Venezuelan govt ties extortion to dissident ex-prosecutor

Leaders of Venezuela's ruling socialist party are alleging that a $6 million extortion ring was operated by the husband and close aides of ousted chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega, who recently has become a key government critic.

Socialist leader Diosdado Cabello said Wednesday the network squeezed businessmen working in the nation's oil industry to protect them from prosecution. He gave the government loyalist appointed to replace Ortega what he said were offshore bank records showing where proceeds from the scheme were stashed.

He called for Ortega's husband German Ferrer to be stripped of his immunity from prosecution as a member of congress.

One of the prosecutors denounced by Cabello is responsible for investigating some $100 million in bribery payments to top Venezuelan officials by Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.