The cryptocurrency backed by the Venezuelan state, the petro, is a "semi-hidden joint venture" between Venezuelan and Russian officials and businessmen, according to a new report by Time. The petro, which was launched for the first time on February 20, is the first cryptocurrency backed by the state. Its value is linked to the country's oil reserves. The sources told Time that the goal of the petro was to erode the power of US sanctions. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro previously referred to the petro as "Kryptonite" and the US government. UU As "Superman".
An executive at a Russian state bank told Time that the Kremlin's top advisors were overseeing the development of the oil and that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the project in 2017. "People close to Putin told him that this is how to avoid sanctions" said the executive to Time. "This is how it all began."
Earlier this week, the Trump administration issued an executive order that prohibits US citizens from buying oil, which Maduro hopes will raise $ 6 billion and help shore up the country's crisis economy. The currency of Venezuela, the bolivar, has suffered hyperinflation as a result of the bad government administration and the sanctions of the United States. The United States has also frozen assets of four current and former Venezuelan government officials.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement Monday:
"President Maduro decimated the Venezuelan economy and launched a humanitarian crisis, instead of correcting the course to avoid further catastrophes, the Maduro regime tries to avoid sanctions through the digital currency Petro, a ploy that the democratically elected National Assembly of Venezuela has denounced and the Treasury has warned the American people to avoid. "
Cryptocurrencies could be an effective way to avoid penalties. Time reports that Russia floated the idea of creating a digital version of the ruble, but Russia's central bank said it would risk destabilizing the ruble.
"So Russia made its stronghold here in Venezuela," Armando Armas, a member of the Venezuelan parliament's opposition, told the National Assembly. "Now they are using Venezuela as a guinea pig for their experiment."