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To March 2024, Venezuela will continue to shut down its cryptocurrency agency.

The government, in a move that may raise eyebrows, has decided to allocate an additional half-year to the intricate process of restructuring the entity, a process initially initiated in March 2023.

Venezuela, a trailblazer among Latin American nations, pioneered the establishment of its autonomous regulatory body for cryptocurrencies, birthing the Superintendencia Nacional de Criptoactivos (Sunacrip) back in 2018. However, in a surprising turn of events, the government has recently declared its intention to extend the entity’s “reorganization” phase by another six months, effectively prolonging its closure since March 2023.

According to a presidential decree disclosed on September 19, President Nicolás Maduro has issued the directive for an extension in the mandated restructuring period of Sunacrip. This extended phase formally commenced on September 17, 2023, and is set to persist until March 24, 2024.

Sunacrip found itself thrust into the spotlight when it was abruptly shuttered in March 2023, following allegations of corruption involving its former top brass. At the time, a slew of arrests was made, including that of Joselit Ramirez Camacho, the long-serving head of the crypto department since its inception in 2018. Venezuelan prosecutors claim that Ramirez misappropriated a staggering sum exceeding $3 million from state coffers during his tenure at Sunacrip. His purview encompassed overseeing the nation’s cryptocurrency regulations and the rollout of the petro, a homegrown digital currency backed by Venezuela’s oil reserves.

The closure of this regulatory body triggered a seismic upheaval within the Venezuelan crypto landscape, which has been closely intertwined with the state apparatus and has relied on digital assets to circumvent economic sanctions imposed by the United States. Consequently, crypto mining facilities in various states were abruptly shuttered, and certain cryptocurrency exchanges were compelled to cease their operations.

Sunacrip was originally established by the Venezuelan government in 2018 with a broad mandate encompassing the oversight of all cryptocurrency-related commercial endeavors within the nation, including the realms of “creation, issuance, transfer, trade, and exchange” of all cryptocurrency activities.

In 2018, Venezuela embarked on a groundbreaking venture with the launch of the petro, a cryptocurrency underpinned by the nation’s vast oil reserves. Fast forward to the summer of 2023, amidst widespread speculations of the government contemplating the liquidation of this cryptocurrency, it’s worth noting that the official petro webpage remained operational at the time of composing this text.

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