The U.S. government issued a $5 million bounty to the supervisor of the Petro, but court documents suggest that crypto has little to do with alleged sanction evasion schemes.
The United States government has put Joselit Ramirez Camacho, the Venezuelan government’s superintendent of the Petro cryptocurrency, on its Most Wanted List.
According to a June 1 statement, the Homeland Security Investigations branch of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency issued a bounty for up to $5 million for any information that would lead to the capture of Petro’s supervisor. This was done following an investigation by the HSI’s New York office.
The authorities allege that Ramirez Camacho has “deep political, social and economic ties” to suspected narcotic kingpins, one of whom is Tareck El Aissami, former Vice President of Venezuela.
Ramirez Camacho was indicted by New York’s Southern District court for violations of sanctions imposed under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the Kingpin Act, and those imposed by the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control.
Petro plays minor role
As Cointelegraph previously reported, the indictments were levied against a specific group of government officials who are accused of evading financial sanctions and facilitating drug traffic into the United States. Cryptocurrencies are not specifically mentioned in the court documents, instead focusing on cash smuggling schemes, shell corporations and illegal travel.
Specifically, Ramirez Camacho is alleged to have instructed a U.S. person to open a bank account and shell corporation in Turkey, which could then be used by the group to evade sanctions.
The bounty now posted for Ramirez Camacho is the smallest among the alleged co-conspirators, with the government offering $15 million for the capture of Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela’s de facto president. Several other high ranking officials, including El Aissami, face $10 million bounties.
While experts previously interviewed by Cointelegraph believe that cryptocurrencies could have played a role in the evasion schemes, the Petro cryptocurrency is unlikely to have been used.
The Venezuelan government is struggling to encourage Petro’s adoption within the country. Earlier, the government mandated gas stations across the country to sell gasoline for Petro at a discounted price.
Various initiatives to distribute Petro to the population have also been largely unsuccessful in enticing adoption. As Cointelegraph reported in January, Venezuelan citizens were aggressively trying to get rid of the Petro in exchange for Bolivars, the country’s troubled fiat currency, due to the difficulty in using the cryptocurrency for everyday purchases.