Venezuela shuts down crypto mining facilities, exchanges amid corruption probe

Venezuela shuts down crypto mining facilities, exchanges amid corruption probe

March 25, 2023

Venezuela’s energy supplier has shut down crypto mining facilities throughout the country as part of a reorganization of the national crypto department and ongoing corruption investigations involving the country’s oil company.

According to local media reports, crypto mining companies, and tweets from Venezuela’s National Association of Cryptocurrencies, mining facilities were shut down in the past days in the states of Lara, Carabobo and Bolívar. It is unclear how many crypto firms were affected. Some crypto exchanges were also ordered to cease operations.

The closure of crypto mining facilities is believed to be part of an ongoing investigation of corruption involving Venezuela’s oil company PDVSA and the country’s crypto department. 

Venezuela’s attorney general Tarek William Saab disclosed on March 25 that government officials were allegedly running parallel oil operations with the assistance of the national crypto department. Saab noted on Twitter:

“This network used a conglomerate of commercial companies to legitimize the capital obtained from sales through the acquisition of crypto-assets, personal and real estate.”

According to Saab, at least 10 people have been arrested in connection with the investigations, including Joselit Ramirez Camacho who led the crypto department since its inception in 2018 overseeing crypto tax rules and the country’s cryptocurrency Petro. According to earlier reports, Camacho was arrested on March 17 during the course of the investigation.

Since June 2020, Camacho has been listed in the United States Most Wanted List. At the time, the Homeland Security Investigations issued a bounty for up to $5 million for any information that would lead to the capture of Petro’s supervisor. Authorities alleged that Ramirez had “deep political, social and economic ties” to suspected narcotic kingpins, including Tareck El Aissami, the former vice president of Venezuela.

Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro announced the reorganization of the National Superintendency of Crypto Assets in a decree issued on March 17. Maduro’s administration claimed the decision was intended to protect the country’s citizens from the negative effects of economic sanctions, among other reasons.

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