(BBC) 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.
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.