LatinNews Daily - 23 February 2023

In brief: Salvadorean NGO urges corruption probe into gov’t bitcoin app

*Local NGO Cristosal has urged El Salvador’s attorney general’s office (FGR) to investigate the alleged theft of over US$12m in public funds in relation to state-owned digital wallet app ‘Chivo’ used to promote the use of cryptocurrency bitcoin which was adopted as legal tender under the populist government led by President Nayib Bukele in September 2021. Cristosal also highlighted as offenses to be investigated “contracts and transactions declared secret, disabling of security mechanisms in ‘Chivo’ , and identity theft”, calling for authorities to investigate those responsible. Cristosal adds that its request is based on investigative journalism reports by local media outlets, El Faro and Revista Factum and Guatemala’s No Ficción as well as “judicial proceedings in a US court”. According to Cristosal orders were supposedly given by “people related with the government” to disable fundamental components to verify users’ identity. It said that due to this, “20% of the user profiles created do not really belong to the registered persons, but to third parties who usurped their identities, resulting in the theft of over US$12m of public resources.” The call for the investigation, which is unlikely to prosper given the FGR head, Rodrigo Delgado is a Bukele ally, will fan existing concerns among international finance institutions and credit ratings agencies regarding the adoption of bitcoin as legal tender.

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