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SurBitcoin temporarily suspends services amid bitcoin-related arrests in Venezuela

SurBitcoin, a leading Venezuela-based bitcoin exchange, has told its clients to withdraw their cash and cryptocurrency balances, following the sudden shut down of its bank account at Banesco, the country’s largest financial institution.

"Dear customer, yesterday we received a communication from the management of Banesco where we are informed that our bank account will be closed today 03/02/2017," said SurBitcoin. “We expect to resume operations in approximately 2 weeks.”

While the reason for Banesco’s withdrawal of its services to the exchange remains unknown at the moment, the announcement follows the recent crackdown of bitcoin mining businesses by authorities in Venezuela. According to the reports, four miners were arrested recently and four others have been taken into custody.

Moreover, the Policia Nacional Bolivariana (PNB) uncovered a facility with 11,000 bitcoin mining devices. According to NewsBTC, two men were arrested on suspicion of committing cybercrime, financing terrorism and electricity theft.

Rodrigo Souza, founder and CEO SurBitcoin, attributed the temporary closure to the recent arrests in Valencia, Reason.com reported.

"When it was found that there were 11,000 mining computers consuming the energy to power a whole town at a time when there are severe electricity shortages, it triggered a reaction," he said. "We were not contacted by the government, but our bank is revoking our account because it doesn't want to be involved. We are currently reaching out to other banking partners."

The crackdown of bitcoin businesses in the crisis-ridden Venezuela comes amid rising bitcoin adoption. People are increasingly entering the cryptocurrency space as the Bolivar dropped significantly against the US dollar.

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