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BANDESAL, El Salvador’s development bank, has refused to provide information on the government’s controversial Bitcoin buys, an anti-corruption body revealed Sunday.
In a late weekend tweet, El Salvador’s Anti-Corruption Legal Advisory Center (ALAC), which provides citizens legal aid in speaking out against corruption, released a document from the bank. In the document, BANDESAL says it cannot reveal the “confidential” information.
El pasado mes de septiembre @BANDESAL denegó por segunda vez entregar información sobre la compra y venta de Bitcoin por parte del gobierno salvadoreño, alegando reserva y contrariando el principio de máxima publicidad y proporcionalidad. Más información: https://t.co/J2bYYYIgMC pic.twitter.com/IU1738TJ9J
— ALAC El Salvador (@ALAC_SV) October 31, 2022
BANDESAL is in charge of managing funds used by the Salvadoran government for its Bitcoin projects. The tiny Central American country last year became the world’s first nation to adopt the cryptocurrency as legal tender.
ALAC criticized BANDESAL for the move. “The confidentiality limits the possibility for citizens to access and receive information on the operations carried out with public funds by BANDESAL,” it said in a tweet.
El Salvador’s government spokeswoman did not respond to Decrypt’s request for comment.
In addition to making Bitcoin legal tender in the country, obliging businesses to accept the asset, the Salvadoran government also launched a state-sponsored crypto wallet and gave its citizens $30-worth of the coin to spend.
Anti-Bitcoin Protests Escalate on El Salvador Independence Day
Bitcoin ATMs are scattered around San Salvador, and backpackers can freely spend their sats at many of the tiny country’s surf spots, Decrypt found.
The idea was to get Salvadorans—and tourists—as excited about Bitcoin as the country’s millennial president, Nayib Bukele.
President Bukele also has bought lots of Bitcoin via his phone. In fact, the only information anyone has about El Salvador’s purchases come via the leader’s announcements on Twitter (he tweets whenever he makes a crypto purchase).
El Salvador bought today 80 #BTC at $19,000 each!#Bitcoin is the future!
Thank you for selling cheap 😉 pic.twitter.com/ZHwr0Ln1Ze
— Nayib Bukele (@nayibbukele) July 1, 2022
He has spent $107 million on Bitcoin, data from the website Nayib Tracker shows. And the chilly crypto bear market means the leader is down $58 million.
The U.S. government this year said President Bukele’s Bitcoin law “posed risks” to the American financial system. And the IMF, the World Bank, and JPMorgan have also said the move was bad news.
A businessman who asked not to be named described the situation as “insanity.”
“Even BANDESAL does not know how the President has invested the money,” he told Decrypt. “The Bitcoin investments are managed by him from his mobile phone.”
But despite the criticisms, President Bukele remains popular: a CID Gallup poll released earlier this month showed the leader to have the highest approval ratings in Latin America.