The Latin American country was among the first in the region to establish a regulatory agency to oversee the burgeoning crypto landscape following the launch of Sunacrip (Superintendencia Nacional de Criptoactivos) five years ago. However, the Venezuelan government has now revealed that the agency’s reorganization would be complete by Q1 2024 after shutting it down in March 2023.
President Nicolás Maduro has mandated the continuation of Sunacrip’s reorganization in a presidential decree issued recently. This extension started on September 17 and is scheduled to be concluded on March 24, 2024.
Sunacrip’s restructuring followed a severe corruption scandal involving its former top leaders, which resulted in the organization’s closure in March 2023. At the time, the government instituted a broad investigation, which led to the arrest of at least ten people, including Joselit Ramirez Camacho, who has been the head of operations of the organization’s crypto department since its launch in 2018.
Meanwhile, prosecutors claimed that Ramirez embezzled over $3 million from state coffers during his stint at Sunacrip. His duties included overseeing the country’s crypto regulatory framework and the implementation of the petro, a Venezuelan digital currency backed by the country’s oil reserves.
This incident is a reminder of the pitfalls that can accompany cryptocurrency initiatives managed by government entities.
Impact Of Sunacrip’s Shutdown
Following the government’s abrupt closure of the regulatory agency, there has been widespread turmoil in Venezuela’s crypto sector. The regulatory body has played an essential role in the country’s finance ecosystem.
More importantly, it has been leveraging digital assets to avoid US economic sanctions. Hence, the ensuing upheaval as a result of Sunacrrip’s shutdown meant the closure of crypto mining facilities and certain cryptocurrency exchanges across the country.
The regulator was a key player in shaping and regulating Venezuela’s evolving crypto landscape. The same year after launching Sunacrip, Venezuela also launched the petro, a cryptocurrency backed by oil reserves.
However, this summer, there were speculations that the government intends to liquidate this one-of-a-kind currency, which has found a useful place within the Latin American nation’s digital economy. Even though the rumors are still circulating, the official Petro webpage is still up and running at the time of writing.
Meanwhile, Latin America is steadily becoming the region with the highest holders of digital assets as adoption rates continue to soar. This soaring adoption rate could be one of the reasons the world’s largest crypto exchange, Binance, announced the launch of its Send Cash product in the region last month.
The eligible countries include Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Mexico. Send Cash is a Binance Pay service that enables people to use the crypto payment technology of the platform to make digital transfers seamlessly and quickly.
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