The Venezuelan government has announced that it will start monitoring accounts of its nationals who conduct cryptocurrency transactions.

Vice President Tarek El Aissami explained that the government will start monitoring bank accounts for crypto-related transactions and will prosecute those trading them “at speculative prices,” according to

The new drive to monitor Venezuelan citizens’ bank accounts follows a previous plan called “Operation Paper Hands”, said to be the largest anti-litigation procedure in the country’s history. Venezuela’s Prosecutor General, Tarek William Saab commented that the action was planned “to take action against individuals and companies that have incurred misappropriation, and dissemination of false information about the exchange rate.”

The operation has resulted in 1,382 bank accounts being frozen, equating to 711,967 million bolivars ($10.6 mln) being blocked.

The following phase of the crackdown launched last week is called “Operation Metal Hands” which is now turning its focus towards cryptocurrencies. The government claims that Venezuelans have purchased gold from small mining operations, sold it outside of the country and then by using cryptocurrency transactions the sales have “hit the Venezuelan monetary system.”

Since the launch of Operation Paper Hands, two crypto exchange operators were shut down by the government, but this did little curb elicit trading. In response Vice President Tareck El Aissami authorized just three exchanges, based in Caracas to perform transactions, although the president himself had certified 16 other exchanges in April with the purpose of listing the Petro. It appears however that three new exchanges show no indication of trading in cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin is now recognized as the only way of getting around the country’s currency controls, and bitcoin mining offers Venezuelans a chance to pay for good imported from overseas. Although the process is not sanctioned for individuals other than going through ‘official’ methods, residents are able to sidestep the government controls to buy foodstuffs from Florida and Miami by trading Bitcoin for bolivars, the local hyperinflated currency.

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