Near the middle of February, the government of rapidly-declining socialist country Venezuela launched Petro – the world’s first state-issued cryptocurrency. The cryptocurrency is purportedly backed by the oil-rich South American country’s oil reserves, but many view the project as little more than an attempt at circumventing US-imposed economic sanctions.
Bitfinex, the largest cryptocurrency exchange, has issued a statement today regarding its restriction of Venezuela’s state-issued Petro Token (PTR).
Bitfinex has no love for Petro
One such company sharing this view is Bitfinex, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world. In an official statement today, the company wrote:
We see the PTR as having limited utility. In addition, it could be construed as an attempt to circumvent legitimate sanctions against the [government of Venezuela].
Statement on the Venezuelan Petro Token (PTR)https://t.co/EWpXGFKfBA
– Bitfinex (@bitfinex) March 27, 2018
As noted in Bitfinex’s statement, the United States has issued a prohibition against its citizens conducting any economic dealings with the government of Venezuela, the Central Bank of Venezuela, the state-owned oil company PdVSA, and any other entity related to the South American country’s government. As such, the purchase of PTR tokens is also strictly prohibited.
Bitfinex notes that it “never had plans to include the PTR or similar tokens in the Bitfinex trading platform,” but adds:
In light of the U.S. sanctions and the other clear sanctions risks of dealing in these products, Bitfinex will not list or transact the PTR or other similar digital tokens. This restriction extends to all customers of the platform, including U.S. persons, and to all activities on Bitfinex, including deposits, financing, trading, and withdrawals.
Bitfinex has also explicitly banned all of its employees from purchasing petro, stating:
Furthermore, all contractors and employees of Bitfinex, wherever situated, are prohibited from transacting in the PTR or other digital tokens as specified above, effective immediately.
Bitfinex’s statement comes less than one week after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro went on national television to announce Petro’s availability for purchase with foreign fiat – including yuan, rubles, Turkish liras, and euro. The questionable cryptocurrency is not, however, available for purchase with Venezuelan bolivar.
Why anyone would want to purchase Venezuela’s cryptocurrency (which is backed by yet-to-be-drilled oil) with fiat is another question entirely – since Petro tokens reportedly aren’t good for anything other than paying government taxes in Venezuela.