Venezuela, a pioneer in establishing its crypto regulatory body, the Superintendencia Nacional de Criptoactivos (Sunacrip), has extended the shutdown and reorganization of the agency for an additional six months. This move comes after the government closed Sunacrip in March 2023 due to a corruption scandal involving its former leadership.
A presidential decree issued on September 19, 2023, by President Nicolás Maduro, formalized the extension of the forced reorganization of Sunacrip. The extended period commenced on September 17, 2023, and will continue until March 24, 2024.
Background on Sunacrip Closure
The closure of Sunacrip in March 2023 was prompted by revelations of corruption within its top management. At least ten individuals, including Joselit Ramirez Camacho, who had overseen the crypto department since its inception in 2018, were arrested. Ramirez was accused of embezzling over $3 million from the state during his tenure at Sunacrip. He played a pivotal role in regulating the country’s crypto activities and implementing the petro, Venezuela’s national cryptocurrency linked to its oil reserves.
Impact on Venezuelan Crypto Industry
The shutdown of Sunacrip had significant repercussions for Venezuela’s crypto industry, which has close ties to the government and has been using digital assets to mitigate U.S. economic sanctions. Crypto mining facilities in several states were shuttered, and some crypto exchanges were ordered to cease operations.
Sunacrip, established by the Venezuelan government in 2018, was responsible for overseeing all crypto-related commercial activities within the country, including the creation, issuance, transfer, trade, and exchange of cryptocurrencies.
The Petro’s Fate
In 2018, Venezuela launched the petro, a cryptocurrency backed by its oil reserves. By the summer of 2023, reports surfaced suggesting the government’s intention to liquidate the petro. However, the official petro webpage remained operational at the time of this report.
Venezuela’s decision to extend the reorganization of Sunacrip underscores its commitment to address corruption within its crypto regulatory framework and ensure the stability of the nation’s cryptocurrency ecosystem.