US blocks transactions with Venezuela in virtual currency, digital coin or digital token

On 19 March, the US President Donald Trump issued an executive order prohibiting US transactions with Venezuela's digital currency, a move to further block the South American country's access to US financial market.

Petro cryptocurrency. Reuters.

Petro cryptocurrency. Reuters.

The US blocked "all transactions related to, provision of financing for, and other dealings in, by a US person or within the US, any digital currency, digital coin, or digital token," which have been issued by the Venezuelan government since 9 January, Xinhua quoted a White House statement, as saying.

Washington said the new measure has been introduced to counter the latest attempt from the Maduro administration "to circumvent US sanctions."

In late February, Venezuela launched the presale of its own cryptocurrency, a type of digital or virtual currency, backed by its crude oil reserves, as a new financing option against financial sanctions imposed by Washington, which forbid US businesses from lending to the Venezuelan government or the state-run oil and gas company PDVSA.

The US Treasury Department said earlier that the digital currency could violate the sanctions against Venezuela, warning investors who acquire it of legal consequences.

Venezuela had over $3 billion blocked in the international financial system due to US economic sanctions, Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza said in December.

The Venezuelan government has been the subject of increased pressure and sanctions from abroad, including the US and the European Union, for alleged electoral fraud, corruption, and causing widespread poverty.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro vowed in February that his government was ready to receive international observers to oversee presidential elections on 22 April.

Updated Date: Mar 20, 2018 08:09 AM