US bans use of Venezuela’s Petro cryptocurrency

The Trump administration on 19 March 2018 banned all use by Americans of Venezuelan cryptocurrency, saying that its introduction is intended to skirt U.S. sanctions. In a separate move, the administration also slapped sanctions on four current and former senior Venezuelan officials accused of corruption and mismanagement.

In an executive order that took effect immediately upon its issuance, President Donald Trump declared illegal all U.S. transactions related to Venezuelan digital currencies, coins or tokens. The prohibition applies to all people and companies subject to U.S. jurisdiction. The move follows the introduction last month of a Venezuelan cryptocurrency known as the “petro,” for which the government says it has received investment commitments of $5 billion.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro issued a statement saying the unilateral sanctions violate the U.N. Charter “and the most elemental principles of international law.” He said charges of a “crime against humanity” could be presented to the World Court. The petro is backed by Venezuela’s crude oil reserves, the largest in the world, yet it has arrived on the market as the socialist country sinks deeper into an economic crisis marked by soaring inflation and food shortages that put residents in lines for hours to buy common products.

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