US Senators seek stronger sanctions on Venezuelan "Petro" cryptocurrency


A bipartisan group of US senators is pushing for stricter sanctions against the cryptocurrency supported by the state, known as petro.

The bill, known as the Venezuelan Law for Humanitarian Aid, Reconstruction and the Rule of Law of 2018, covers a number of areas related to Venezuela, including the proposal for humanitarian aid to migrants from the country and efforts to support "the restoration of democracy" in its long period of economic crisis.

The bill is sponsored by Senators Bob Mendendez, Marco Rubio, Bill Nelson, John Cornyn, Dick Durbin, David Perdue, Ben Cardin, Ted Cruz, Tim Kaine, Michael Bennet and Patrick Leahy, according to LegiScan. It was introduced for the first time on September 24th.

In particular, it includes a section that reflects an executive order signed by US President Donald Trump in March that imposed sanctions on the petro, which Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro presented last year. The controversial cryptocurrency has aroused criticism and condemnation from some circles, while the government itself has tried to implement it in a variety of areas. At the beginning of this week, Maduro He said that a public sale of the petro would begin next month.

Yet the Senate bill brings Trump's executive order a further step, excluding US residents from providing "software" to the Venezuelan government as part of its efforts to launch the petro.

"All transactions carried out by a person in the United States or the United States to which they refer, provide financing, provide software for or otherwise process in any digital currency, digital currency or digital token, which has been issued by, for or on behalf of of the Government of Venezuela are prohibited from the date of the promulgation of this law, "says the bill.

Request for a report on penalties

The bill also includes a section calling for a "report on the impact of cryptocurrencies on US sanctions", which requires the United States Department of State – along with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission – "It presents a report to the appropriate congressional committees that provides an assessment of how digital currencies affect the effectiveness of US sanctions worldwide."

The report, if the bill passed and signed into law, would present two main components. First, it would include details on efforts to use cryptocurrencies to circumvent US sanctions.

Secondly, it calls for "recommendations for new legislative and regulatory measures" to stop these efforts ", including through the direct or indirect use of products or services based on United States, software or financial services companies".

The report was due six months after the bill was signed into law.

Image of the United States Capitol through Shutterstock

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