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Venezuela extends digital asset regulator Sunacrip’s reorganization by half year

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Venezuela’s president has extended the reorganization of the country’s digital asset regulator by six months to March 2024.

The National Superintendency of Crypto Assets and Related Activities, known locally as Sunacrip, was disbanded in March this year. President Nicolas Maduro signed an executive order to restructure the agency, which was rocked by corruption allegations against its top leaders.

The order further dismissed the founding chairman, Joselit Ramirez, who was later arrested on allegations of spearheading a corruption ring that defrauded $3 billion ($21 billion by some estimates) from the Venezuelan government’s oil sales.

President Maduro appointed Anabel Pereira Fernández, the former head of the country’s deposit insurance agency, to spearhead the restructuring within six months.

In the latest presidential decree, Maduro has extended the restructuring period by six more months to March 2024.

Sunacrip and Ramirez’s downfall is a big blow to Maduro, the embattled leader under whose tenure Venezuela has become one of the most sanctioned countries globally. Maduro has turned to digital assets to circumvent the sanctions, with blockchain analytics companies revealing that Venezuelan firms have relied on stablecoins for international payments.

Maduro launched the Petro digital currency in 2018 to further help the country circumvent sanctions, with Ramirez—who became the head of Sunacrip in the same year—leading the effort. Petro was an instant failure, and despite the government’s efforts to force it on the people, it has ebbed away amid reports that it’s set to be officially shut down.

It’s unclear whether the restructured Sunacrip will hold the same influence or jurisdiction as it did for the past five years. As the ultimate digital asset regulator, the agency regulated all exchanges, miners, traders, and brokers.

Since its collapse, the industry has been in limbo amid reports that some exchanges and wallets had to halt their activities as they awaited direction from the government.

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