Venezuela closes crypto mining facilities and exchanges during a corruption investigation

The Venezuelan attorney general’s office claims that the country’s top leaders have secretly used the country’s crypto service to operate parallel oil operations.

In light of current corruption investigations at the country’s oil business and a reorganization of the national crypto department, Venezuela’s energy provider has ordered the closure of all cryptocurrency mining operations throughout the country.

Recent days have seen the closure of mining operations in the states of Lara, Carabobo, and Bolvar, as reported by local media, cryptocurrency mining firms, and the Twitter account of Venezuela’s National Association of Cryptocurrencies. It is not known how many crypto companies were compromised. In addition, certain cryptocurrency exchanges have been told to shut down.

It is widely speculated that the shutdown of crypto mining facilities is connected to an ongoing probe into corruption at Venezuela’s state-owned oil corporation PDVSA and the country’s crypto department.

On March 25, Venezuela’s attorney general Tarek William Saab said that, according to allegations, government personnel was assisting in the operation of parallel oil activities with the help of the country’s national crypto department. On Twitter, Saab said:

“To “legitimize” the funds received through sales and utilized to purchase crypto-assets, personal property, and real estate, “this network used a conglomerate of commercial companies.”

At least ten persons, including Joselit Ramirez Camacho, the head of the crypto department from its formation in 2018 to monitor crypto tax regulations and the country’s cryptocurrency Petro, have been detained in connection with the investigations, according to Saab. As previously reported, the inquiry resulted in Camacho’s arrest on March 17.

The United States Most Wanted List has included Camacho since June 2020. Homeland Security Investigations had offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest of Petro’s superior. According to the government, Ramirez had “deep political, social, and economic ties” to accused drug lords, including Venezuela’s ex-vice president Tareck El Aissami.

In a decree dated March 17, Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro announced the revamping of the country’s National Superintendency of Crypto Assets. The Maduro government said they called to shield the populace from the consequences of economic sanctions.

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