Venezuela has moved against officials who are said to have run an underhand crypto mining and oil operation.
A broad corruption probe was coordinated between the attorney general’s office, Venezuelan Crypto Department, and the energy watchdog.
Media reports have surfaced that authorities have moved in to shut down mining facilities in Lara, Carabobo, and Bolívar, with an unknown number of crypto firms having been affected.
Some crypto companies were given notice to shut down their operations but how much time they were given to comply is not known.
This is a continuation of the regulatory efforts that Venezuela has mounted over the past few years against the crypto sector, including a 20% tax on crypto.
In the meantime, local media said that the crackdown was to do with corruption in the state-owned petrol giant, PDVSA. Corrupt officials were reportedly discovered in the country’s crypto department too.
According to attorney general Tarek William Saab, government officials oversaw a parallel oil business that was aided by the national crypto department, or individuals within its structure.
Saab tweeted: “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.”
So far, 10 arrests have been made in connection with the operation. One of those arrested is Joselit Ramirez Camacho who had overseen the crypto department since it was established in 2018. In 2020, he was put on the US Most Wanted List, as he is tied to Venezuela’s skirting of Western-led sanctions.
In the public arrest warrant, Camacho was apprehended on suspected ties to politicians and drug lords, including the former vice president of Venezuela Tareck El Aissami.
Crypto mining farms and companies have both been affected by the new measure.
The Petro, an oil-backed national cryptocurrency, has become less decentralized over the past few years, especially under Camacho who transformed it into a non-auditable asset during his leadership.
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