Venezuelan digital currency chief wanted in US

Authorities in the United States have placed a $5 million bounty for information leading to the arrest of Venezuela’s digital currency chief, who they say has ties to known drug lords and that he is a money launderer himself.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) announced that it had added Joselit Ramirez to its most wanted list. Ramirez is the head of Venezuela’s National Superintendency of Cryptoassets (Sunacrip). This is the body charged with administration of the Petro and other digital currencies.

The HSI accused Ramirez of being a money launderer and is involved in evading U.S. sanctions. U.S. authorities said he also has social, political and economic ties to alleged narcotics kingpins such as Tareck El Aissami.

El Aissami, Venezuela’s Minister for Energy, is also on the agency’s ‘Most Wanted List.’

HSI is offering $5 million to anyone with information leading to the arrest or conviction of Ramirez.

Ramirez has been on the U.S. authorities’ radar for several months now. Two months ago, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office indicted him for fraud. The indictment claimed that Ramirez had colluded with U.S. citizens to “provide private flight services for the benefit of Maduro’s 2018 presidential campaign, in violation of OFAC’s sanctions.”

Together with other top officials in the Maduro government, he was also accused of conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to obstruct the lawful governmental functions of OFAC.

The news comes amid the Maduro government’s fervent efforts to popularize Petro. Just recently, the government announced that citizens could now purchase gasoline with Petro. The government ordered all gas stations in Venezuela to begin accepting Petro.

Despite Maduro’s efforts, the people of Venezuela have shunned the Petro. According to a report earlier this year, users and merchants alike are staying away from the scandalous digital currency. The merchants claimed that using Petro led them to losses.

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