Yesterday, the Venezuelan government completed a sweep of some illegal crypto exchanges that made business trading cryptos and digital payment currencies (like dollars from Paypal and Skrill), citing illegal market manipulation for rising prices and money laundering as reasons to do so. Some of the exchanges affected by the measure were the international AirTM services and InterCash.
The general prosecutor of Venezuela, Tarek William Saab, explained that these businesses operated in Venezuela illegally, inflating artificially the price of the black market dollar exchange. Particularly AirTM features a high exchange quote, way over the normal exchanges quotes in the country. These exchanges web domains are based offshore, but they need of national FIAT accounts to change cryptocurrencies and dollars into bolivares. AirTM offered a particular brokerage service that lets people change fiat and cryptocurrencies into bolivares by assigning transactions to different “cashiers”.
The Venezuelan government has apprehended 112 people and blocked more than 247 bank accounts, in a high-level operation called “Operation Paper Hands”. The Venezuelan government has what is called an “exchange control”; the value of the dollar is artificially pegged to the national currency, the bolivar. The problem with this is that Venezuela also faces record inflation rates, and no one wants to exchanges his dollars or cryptocurrencies at the official price given.
This move also affects people that were getting payment and remittances from outside the country via these services Venezuela has a struggling economy and freelances that got international payments. In the last two year, the remittances to Venezuelan soil have grown exponentially. There are no official numbers, but some experts estimate that more than 20% of the country lives of remittances from outside its borders.
Other national cryptocurrency exchanges have also restricted its operations to evade government actions against them, but others continue to function normally: Colibit and MonkeyCoin are still up and running. These actions are strange because the Venezuelan government has been open to cryptocurrency mining and trading since the creation of its own national cryptocurrency, the Petro. you can read more about it here.