Joselit Ramirez, the top authority on cryptocurrency policy in Venezuela, has been removed from his position by none other than the President of the Republic, Nicolas Maduro. According to Venezuelan media, Ramirez has since been arrested for involvement in a plot to steal Venezuela’s oil assets.
According to an official journal published by the Venezuelan government on March 17, his ouster not only affects Ramirez, but also a significant portion of the institution’s senior staff, as it calls for a major reorganization of the National Superintendency of Crypto Assets and Related Activities (SUNACRIP).
A public continuation of the Gaceta Oficial Extraordinaria donde se crea la Junta Reestructuradora de la Sunacrip. https://t.co/au7uiaU7LB
— Asonacrip (Asociación Nacional de Criptomonedas) (@AsonacripVe) March 18, 2023
Although President Maduro has not issued an official statement and the government has not provided any reasons for Ramirez’s ouster, the rumor that has garnered the most traction is his alleged involvement in acts of corruption. According to Venezuelan media Ultimas NoticiasRamírez was arrested by the National Anti-Corruption Police after requesting a trial against “a number of citizens who may be involved in serious acts of administrative corruption and embezzlement of funds”.
Ultimas Noticias states that the Venezuelan authorities are investigating a corruption scheme through which $3 billion was siphoned off from Venezuelan oil sales in order not to appear in the official accounts of the Venezuelan government.
Analysis of the SUNACRIP restructuring decree may also support such theories. President Maduro stated “that it is the duty of the state to take all the measures at its disposal to protect the Venezuelan people from the negative effects of the multiple aggressions against the country and in particular against its economy”.
The decree adds that the functioning of the administration “will tend towards a rational use of human, material and budgetary resources”.
To coordinate SUNACRIP’s restructuring, a mixed commission consisting of a president and four Maduro-backed directors overseen by the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Trade has been appointed.
The new National Superintendent of Crypto Assets and Related Activities is Anabel Pereira Fernandez, who has a career as President of the Social Protection Fund of Bank Deposits (fogade) and the Head of the Superintendence of Institutions of the Banking Sector Venezuela (Sudeban), among other positions.
Joselit Ramirez and SUNACRIP
Joselit Ramirez assumed and replaced his position in June 2018 Carlo Vargaformer Congressman and member of the opposition party Un Nuevo Tiempowhom the government tasked with coordinating the creation of the national cryptocurrency “Petro”.
Known for his political connections to Tareck El Aissami—Sectoral Vice President of Economy and current Minister of People’s Power for Petroleum in the country – Ramirez was responsible for installing the National Crypto Assets System and promoting the legal framework governing the cryptocurrency ecosystem in Venezuela and its ancillary regulations.
Like El Aissami, Ramirez is currently wanted by US authorities for his alleged involvement in a smuggling scheme coordinated by senior members of the Venezuelan government. US government is offering $5 million for information that could lead to his arrest.
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