Next Phase of Operation Paper Hands
The Venezuelan government has initiated the next phase of its plan to reduce capital flight, calling it “Operation Metal Hands.”
This new phase was launched last week with a focus on what they call “gold smugglers,” or Venezuelans who bought gold from small miners and then sold it outside of the country. The operation has “detected that these mafias have distorted the prices of the dollar,” the country’s Vice President Tareck El Aissami declared, saying that “they have migrated through the market of cryptocurrencies to hit the Venezuelan monetary system.”
The operation further targets capital flight via cryptocurrencies. El Aissami explained that the government will start checking the bank accounts for crypto-related transactions and will prosecute those trading them “at speculative prices.”
“This is part of a war to hit the financial system of the country,” Aporrea publication marked, “and they [the government] will exercise future actions to hit those who try to conspire through cryptocurrencies.” The Vice President was quoted by La Red publication:
All the accounts that we identify that are linked to the manipulation are going to be severely punished and (those responsible will be) placed at the order of justice.
He revealed that, as part of Operation Paper Hands, “5 billion bolivares [around US$50,000] in bank accounts were frozen at Banesco bank, and 12 trillion bolivares [around $120 million] were seized that were destined for contraband in Colombia,” Aporrea publication conveyed.
Three Remittance Houses Legalized
Since the launch of Operation Paper Hands, three remittance houses were closed, including two crypto exchange operators. However, the government soon realized that underground cryptocurrency transactions did not stop.
This led the Vice President to announce last week that three money exchangers in Caracas have been specifically authorized to handle the country’s foreign exchange transactions and remittances. He was quoted by Correo Del Orinoco:
We have authorized three exchange houses, private companies, private exchange operators, legally authorized, to perform all operations associated with remittances.
The three exchanges are Zoom, Italcambio, and Insular. However, their websites do not indicate that they deal with cryptocurrencies in any way.
For the purpose of buying and selling cryptocurrency specifically, the Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro, announced in April that he had certified 16 exchanges with the aim for them to list his country’s own digital currency, the Petro.