Head of Venezuelan Crypto Watchdog Sunacrip Arrested on Alleged Corruption Charges; Institution to Face Restructuring

Joselit Ramirez, head of the Venezuelan cryptocurrency authority Sunacrip, was arrested on March 18, according to reports from local media. Ramirez, who led the institution from its creation in 2018, was arrested for being allegedly involved in corruption schemes, including the embezzlement of $3 billion related to unregistered oil sales.

Sunacrip Boss Joselit Ramirez Arrested

Joselit Ramirez, head of the Venezuelan cryptocurrency authority Sunacrip, was arrested on March 18 on alleged corruption charges. According to reports from the local newspaper Ultimas Noticias, the arrest of Ramirez is part of a national special operation against corruption, that also encompassed the capture of more high-profile individuals, including Cristobal Cornielles, president of the judicial circuit of Caracas, and Pedro Hernandez, a city mayor.

While details of the investigation have not been disclosed, local outlets suggest that the arrest is linked to the disappearance of $3 billion obtained from the sales of Venezuelan oil that did not enter the state accounts.

Sales of Venezuelan oil paid with crypto have been detected before by the U.S. government, which has PDVSA, the state oil company, as a sanctioned entity since January 2019. In October, two oil brokers were charged with brokering illicit oil deals for PDVSA, using cryptocurrencies and shell companies to avoid detection.

Ramirez, who led the institution from its inception back in 2018, also figures as one of the officials of the Venezuelan government charged by the U.S. Department of Justice on narco-terrorism and corruption charges on March 26, 2020. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was also charged at the time.

Restructuring Commission Designated

As a result of the arrest, President Maduro signed an executive order that arranges the restructuring of Sunacrip and the removal of Ramirez. The measure, effective from March 17, will have a duration of six months and will be executed by a restructuring commission, that will examine the current status of the institution and propose changes to the rules and procedures to “contribute with the goals and objectives” of the country.

As part of this executive order, Maduro stated this measure was taken to “protect the Venezuelan people from the negative effects of the multiform aggression that is taking place against the country.” The restructuring commission will be presided over by Anabel Pereira Fernández and three main directors: Hector Obregon, Luis Perez, and Julio Mora. Also, another three substitute directors were also designated.

What do you think about the arrest of Sunacrip’s former head Joselit Ramirez and the upcoming restructuring of the institution? Tell us in the comments section below.

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