Venezuela arrests 21 in crypto oil bribery scheme – Crypto News Today

Venezuela arrests 21 in crypto oil bribery scheme


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Venezuelan prosecutors arrested 21 people for involvement in an extensive crypto-related corruption scheme on state oil company Petroles de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) on March 24, as reported by Reuters.

Eleven of those arrested were businessmen, while the other ten were government officials, according to Reuters. article. Additionally, the Venezuelan government has issued arrest warrants for 11 other people allegedly involved in the same scheme.

What happened?

The arrest warrants were issued following an investigation opened in October 2022, which focused on PDVSA, the judiciary and the country’s crypto watchdog, Sunacrip.

Speaking about the arrests at a press conference, Attorney General Tarek Saab said:

“We are talking about one of the most sinister conspiracies of recent years, which involves civil servants, businessmen who have profited from corruption and young people – including so-called mafia women – who have participated in corruption and money laundering”,

Saab did not disclose company names or details on the exact scope of the program. However, he said Sunacrip was assigned oil shipments for sale without administrative control, which allowed receivers to purchase those shipments without making any recorded payment.

The U.S. government detected that Venezuelan oil shipments were being paid for through cryptocurrencies, leading the U.S. to impose punishments against Venezuela in 2019. In February 2023, local media reported that two oil brokers were accused of settling illegal oil deals with the PDVSA by using Tether (USDT) to dodge penalties and settlement payments.

Previous arrests

Reuters also noted that Saab’s office has investigated more than 30 cases related to the country’s oil corruption, leading to the prosecution of nearly 200 people. A handful of government officials and businessmen were also arrested or dismissed from their posts in the past week.

On March 20, Venezuelan anti-corruption prosecutors sent a letter to the Attorney General. They demanded that those responsible for PDVSA be investigated, which led to the resignation of the president of the company on the same day. Two days later, Venezuelan President assigned PDVSA’s new president, Pedro Tellechea, has been named the country’s new oil minister.

Sunacrip, National Superintendency of Crypto Assets and Related Activities, is the official body designated by the country to regulate crypto assets. On March 18, local news sources reported that Sunacrip chief Joselit Ramirez, along with several other government officials, have been arrested for involvement in corruption schemes.

Posted in: Venezuela, Crime

Venezuela arrests 21 in crypto oil bribery scheme

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