The Venezuelan government has decided to extend the reorganization period of its crypto oversight body, the Superintendencia Nacional de Criptoactivos (Sunacrip), until March 2024. This decision comes after the agency was initially closed in March 2023. Moreover, it was due to a corruption scandal involving its former leadership.
Background: Sunacrip’s Inception and Closure
Venezuela, a pioneer in establishing its own crypto regulatory authority in 2018, has faced challenges that led to this reorganization. The agency was launched to oversee and regulate all crypto-related activities in the country. These include the creation, emission, transfer, commercialization, and exchange of cryptocurrencies.
The closure of Sunacrip in March 2023 was prompted by a corruption scandal that shook the nation. At least 10 individuals who had been at the helm of the crypto department since its inception, were arrested. This includes Joselit Ramirez Camaho.
Shockingly, Ramirez was accused of embezzling over $3 million from the state during his tenure. He had overseen the country’s crypto regulation and played a pivotal role in the development of the petro, Venezuela’s national cryptocurrency tied to oil reserves.
Impact on the Crypto Industry
The shutdown of Sunacrip had far-reaching consequences for the Venezuelan crypto industry, which had been closely intertwined with the government and relied on digital assets to circumvent economic sanctions imposed by the United States. Crypto mining facilities were forcibly closed in several states, and certain crypto exchanges were ordered to halt their operations.
The Petro’s Uncertain Future
One notable development during this period was the uncertainty surrounding the fate of the petro, the oil-backed cryptocurrency launched by Venezuela in 2018. Despite reports suggesting its impending liquidation, the petro’s official webpage remained active at the time of writing.
President Maduro’s Decree
President Nicolás Maduro, in a presidential decree issued on September 19, ordered the extension of Sunacrip’s forced reorganization. This extension officially commenced on September 17 and is set to continue until March 24, 2024.