Donald Trump has signed an executive order imposing new sanctions against Venezuela for its controversial “petro” cryptocurrency.
The U.S. president was previously said to be preparing to sign an executive order imposing additional sanctions on the South American nation for its attempt to bypass existing economic restrictions, McClatchy DC reported on Friday. On Monday, Trump signed an order blocking any U.S. transactions in the petro, the White House announced.
The sanctions represent the most notable development to date since Venezuela launched the petro in February. As stated at the time by government officials, Venezuela is seeking to use the cryptocurrency as a way to circumvent international sanctions.
“All transactions related to, provision of financing for, and other dealings in, by a United States person or within the United States, 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, are prohibited as of the effective date of this order.”
That the Trump administration would make such a move is perhaps unsurprising; several U.S. lawmakers have sharply criticized the petro, with Senators Bob Menendez, Marco Rubio – and, later, Bill Nelson – writing letters to the Treasury Department asking how it would protect American investors and prevent Venezuela from raising money.
The Treasury Department has yet to respond directly to the letters’ contents but did confirm that sanctions risks would apply to Americans purchasing the token. Menendez’s office later confirmed to CoinDesk that he was continuing to press the department for a response.
The controversial token has received pushback from within Venezuela’s borders as well. The nation’s Congress denounced it as “illegal” and unconstitutional.
And while Maduro has claimed to have already garnered as much as $5 billion through the token’s pre-sale, no evidence has yet been presented to back up this claim.
You can read the Executive Order here
Donald Trump image via Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock