Latin America & Caribbean

Miss Venezuela to close temporarily over corruption claims

Winner of the Miss Venezuela 2017 Sthefany Gutierrez with two other contestants on 9 November 2017 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Miss Venezuela pageant has been running for over 40 years

The Miss Venezuela beauty pageant is being suspended after allegations of sexual favours and financial corruption emerged online.

Former Miss Venezuela participants have accused other contestants of receiving money from businessmen and government officials in exchange for sexual favours.

Casting for Miss Venezuela and Mister Venezuela has now been suspended.

The competition has announced an internal review into the claims.

Social media storm

The controversy began after an anti-corruption case against the state oil company was launched and a number of people arrested late last year.

Miss Venezuela contestants then came forward and alleged that some women who had taken part in the competition benefited from government corruption.

In response to the allegations on social media and in the regional press, the Miss Venezuela organisation said that it would suspend auditions while an investigation determined whether anyone linked to the competition had "been involved in activities that break with the values and ethics of the event".

A centre which prepares candidates for the competition in the capital Caracas has also been closed.

Venezuela, which is struggling with the world's highest levels of hyperinflation and has a population of just 32m, is one of the most successful countries to participate in international beauty pageants.

The country has seven Miss Universe and six Miss World title winners.

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