According to local sources, the government of Venezuela is scheduled to launch an online registry for Bitcoin miners by Dec. 22. All Bitcoin miners in the country will be required to sign up. The registry is the first step in the development of a full legal framework to tax and regulate cryptocurrency mining in the country.
Proponents of the decision argue that it will protect cryptocurrency miners in the country. Angel Salazar, a member of an advisory commission helping the Venezuelan government implement cryptocurrency regulations, stated:
“Miners are working under difficult conditions and formalizing the structure through this registry will help protect them from extortion and harassment.”
At a recent press conference, the newly appointed Superintendent of Venezuelan Cryptocurrency, Carlos Vargas claimed that the government is creating the registry to identify and monitor Bitcoin mining more closely, ominously stating:
“We want to know who they are, we want to know where they are, we want to know what equipment they are using.”
Cryptocurrency mining has gained popularity in Venezuela in the past few months, as it provides gainful employment for both poor and rich Venezuelans who are affected by the ongoing financial crisis in the country, marked by wide-ranging hyperinflation.
Although cryptocurrency mining isn’t technically illegal in Venezuela, local police have been arresting miners since early 2016, charging them with electricity theft, exchange fraud, cybercrime, and financing terrorism. Extortion is also a serious problem with the police — miners are sometimes asked to pay protection money in exchange for their charges being dropped.
Most recently, during a raid in Lara on Dec. 9, police confiscated 21 mining rigs and arrested the 31-year-old who owned them.
The miner was charged with computer crimes, exchange fraud, financing terrorism, damage to the national electric system and money laundering.