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Trump bans Venezuelan cryptocurrency in the US

The Venezuelan president created the coin to circumvent US sanctions.
David Lumb, @OutOnALumb
March 19, 2018
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Marco Bello / Reuters

Back in December, President Maduro of Venezuela tried something new to outmaneuver his country's economic disarray and sanctions imposed by the US and other nations: Invent a new cryptocurrency. The 'petro,' as it's called, would be supported by the country's natural resources -- specifically, that each token would be backed by a barrel of oil. Whether or not it was on track to help stabilize Venezuela, Trump just issued an executive order banning use of the currency within the United States.

The order bans all transactions happening in the US related to "any digital currency, digital coin, or digital token, that was issued by, for, or on behalf of the Government of Venezuela on or after January 9, 2018" -- aka, the petro. Maduro had said that about 100 million tokens of the cryptocurrency would be released, which combined to be worth around $6 billion.

The specificity implies this measure specifically blocks the petro's use to circumvent US sanctions against Venezuela, but the government has been cracking down on cryptocurrency crime this year. Regulators have been charging fraudsters and scammers, but they still don't have an overall approach nailed down, resolving to warn Congress about the risks cryptocoins pose to investors and the financial system.

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