- Venezuelan authorities arrest 21 individuals for a crypto-related corruption scheme involving the state-owned oil company PDVSA.
- The arrested individuals include 11 businessmen and 10 government officials, with arrest warrants issued for 11 more individuals.
- The investigation into the corruption scheme began in October 2022 and focused on PDVSA, the judiciary, and the country’s crypto watchdog, Sunacrip.
Venezuelan prosecutors arrested 21 individuals who were allegedly involved in a crypto-related corruption scheme that affected the state oil company, Petroles de Venezuela SA (PDVSA).
According to a report by Reuters, eleven of the arrested individuals were businessmen, while the remaining ten were government officials. Furthermore, the Venezuelan government has released arrest warrants for 11 more individuals who are allegedly participating in the same scheme.
The investigation into the corruption scheme started in October 2022 and was focused on PDVSA, the judiciary, and the country’s crypto watchdog, Sunacrip. Attorney General Tarek Saab spoke about the scheme at a press conference and stated that it was “one of the most lurid plots in recent years, which involves officials, businessmen who benefited from corruption and young people – including the so-called mafia women – who participated in corruption and money laundering.”
Saab did not disclose company names or details of the exact scope of the scheme. However, he disclosed that Sunacrip was assigned oil cargoes for sale without administrative control. This allowed receivers to purchase these cargoes without making a registered payment. This is a significant development as Sunacrip is the country’s designated official body to regulate crypto assets.
The US government detected that Venezuelan oil shipments were paid via cryptocurrencies, leading to sanctions against Venezuela in 2019. In February 2023, local news outlets reported that two oil brokers were facing charges for settling illegal oil deals with the PDVSA using Tether (USDT) to dodge sanctions and settlement payments.
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