Spanish "boy genius" who created remittance app Shasta arrested in Venezuela

Key facts

:

  • The procedure took place in La Castellana, metropolitan area of Caracas.

  • Shasta suspended its operations due to measures by the banking regulator.

Spanish developer and tech entrepreneur, Alex Sicart Ramos, was arrested in the metropolitan area of Caracas, in Venezuela, by officials of the scientific and judicial police (Cicpc). The 22-year-old computer “boy genius” and founder of the app for sending remittances, Shasta, is accused of fraud, money laundering and criminal association.

The information was released by Commissioner Douglas Rico, national director of the police force, who said

that Sicart was arrested in August in the urbanization of La Castellana, Chacao municipality, Miranda state. The case is being heard by the 26th Court of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Rico said a Jeep, Cherokee Sport (license plate AE659JM), a computer and a cell phone were found during the police raid. It is not clear if these goods were seized and placed at the order of the prosecution.

The Shasta application is currently inoperative due to an administrative action by the Superintendence of Banking Sector Institutions (Sudeban). The Venezuelan regulator dictated

, at the beginning of August, the measure for 30 days due to regularities in the administration of access to the platform.

It is not known if the procedure carried out by the Cicpc and the accusations against Sicart are related to the Sudeban’s investigation. In fact, 30 days after the administrative action, the application is still not operational. When entering Shasta’s website, the following message is displayed.

advertencia-cierre-aplicacio-remesas-shasta-app advertencia-cierre-aplicacio-remesas-shasta-app Shasta informed that despite the suspension of its activities, users’ funds will be returned to the Banco Nacional de Crédito, an institution with which the app had an alliance. Source: shasta.me.

Investigations against Sicart in Spain and Venezuela

The procedure initiated against Sicart in Venezuela is

in

addition to the one being followed in Spain for revealing secrets, going against intellectual property, the market and consumers, a fact reported in May by CriptoNoticias. In Europe, a group of former workers of the CryptoSolarTech project accuse him of having revealed the startup

‘s open source code before abandoning it.

At the time Sicar

t refuted the allegations and said that “nothing in the lawsuit is true. The programmer insisted that his project with Shasta had no relation to CryptoSolarTech, an initiative to mine bitcoin and cryptocurrencies using solar energy.

Sicart gained relevance in the technological world by being included by Forbes magazine as one of the great promises under 30 years of age. In addition, the newspaper El País baptized him as the “child prodigy” of technology. After his arrival in Venezuela, the developer promoted his proposal with Shasta as an app for sending and receiving remittances and as a means of payment in dollars or euros.

The application was approved by the banking regulator in 2020. The software remained active for about a year before it stopped its operations due to the administrative measure imposed. However, the Sudeban reported that users with credit balances could withdraw their funds.