CARACAS, Venezuela - President Hugo Chavez threatened on Sunday to seize control of businesses caught hoarding products, and set his sights on Empresas Polar - Venezuela's largest food producer and distributor.
If officials discover that companies sit on goods for months to later sell them at inflated prices, they "should be seized and taken under government control," Chavez said.
He called Polar a "clear example" of a business that could be taken over.
The Venezuelan leader's threats came as the country struggles with sporadic shortages of some basic foods, including sugar, cooking oil, milk, black beans, eggs and chicken.
Chavez has made similar threats in the past. No such takeovers have occurred so far, however.
Many leading retailers argue that currency controls established in 2003 are responsible for higher prices, because some businesses are forced to buy imports using black-market dollars at more than twice the official exchange rate.