Joselit Ramirez, the top authority on cryptocurrency policies in Venezuela, has been removed from his position by none other than the President of the Republic, Nicolas Maduro. Ramirez has since been arrested, according to Venezuelan media, under investigation for participating in a scheme to steal from Venezuela's oil operations.
According to an Official Gazette published by the Venezuelan government on March 17, his removal affects not only Ramirez but also a significant portion of the institution's management staff, as it calls for a comprehensive restructuring of the National Superintendency of Crypto Assets and Related Activities (SUNACRIP).
A continuación publicamos la 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 reasons for Ramirez's removal, the rumor that has gained greatest traction is his alleged involvement in acts of corruption. According to Venezuelan media outlet Últimas Noticias, Ramírez was arrested by the National Anticorruption Police after the issuance of a request for judicial proceedings against "a series of citizens who could be involved in serious acts of administrative corruption and embezzlement of funds."
Últimas Noticias explains that Venezuelan authorities are investigating a corruption scheme through which $3 billion from Venezuelan oil sales were diverted so as not to appear in the official accounts of the Venezuelan government.
Analysis of the SUNACRIP Restructuring Decree could similarly support such theories. President Maduro declared "that it is the duty of the State to take all measures at its disposal to protect the Venezuelan people from the negative effects of the multiform aggression that is taking place against the country and, especially, against its economy."
The decree adds that the functioning of the administration "will tend towards the rational use of human, material, and budgetary resources."
To coordinate the restructuring of SUNACRIP, a mixed commission was appointed, consisting of a president and four directors endorsed by Maduro who will be supervised by the Ministry of Economy, Finance, and Commerce.
The new National Superintendent of Crypto Assets and Related Activities is Anabel Pereira Fernandez, who has a career as the 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 his position in June 2018, replacing Carlos Vargas, a former congressman, and member of the opposition party Un Nuevo Tiempo, whom the government tasked with coordinating the creation of the national cryptocurrency "Petro."
Known for his political ties to Tareck El Aissami—Sectoral Vice President of the Economy and current Minister of Popular Power for Petroleum in the country—Ramirez was responsible for the installation of the National Crypto Assets System and promoting the legal framework that governs the cryptocurrency ecosystem in Venezuela, as well as its ancillary regulations.
Like El Aissami, Ramirez is currently sought by US authorities for his alleged participation in a smuggling scheme coordinated by high-ranking members of the Venezuelan government. The US government is offering $5 million for information that can lead to his arrest.
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