Bitfinex has announced that it will not list or transact Venezuela’s new “oil-backed cryptocurrency” or any other tokens that the country may issue in the future, citing U.S. sanctions. Meanwhile, the Venezuelan government has reportedly set the minimum investment amount for the petro initial coin offering.
Bitfinex’s Restrictions on the Petro
Cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex announced on Tuesday its stance regarding Venezuela’s new digital currency, the petro (PTR). “We see the PTR as having limited utility,” the exchange wrote, adding that “it could be construed as an attempt to circumvent legitimate sanctions” against the Venezuelan government.
Starting on March 19, the US government has “prohibited U.S. persons from all transactions related to, provision of financing for, and other dealings in, any digital currency, digital coin, or digital token issued by, for, or on behalf of” the Venezuelan government, Bitfinex detailed. This includes the central bank of Venezuela, the state-owned oil company (Pdvsa), and any entity owned or controlled by or acting on behalf of Venezuela’s government.
Bitfinex says its restrictions include not only the petro, “but may include other tokens as and when introduced in the future,” adding:
We have never had plans to include the PTR or similar tokens in the Bitfinex trading platform. 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.
Effective immediately, this policy applies to all Bitfinex customers and to all activities on the exchange such as deposits, financing, trading, and withdrawals. In addition, all contractors and employees of the exchange are also prohibited from transacting in the petro or other related digital tokens.
Petro ICO Update
The Venezuelan government claimed that the pre-sale of the petro, which supposedly began on February 20, has raised 5 billion dollars from 133 countries, local media reported. However, there has been no proof of whether any transactions have taken place at the time of writing. According to the whitepaper, the petro initial coin offering (ICO) started on March 20. The new currency can be purchased witheuros, rubles, yuan, and Turkish liras as well as three cryptocurrencies – bitcoin, ether, and xem, as news.Bitcoin.com previously reported.
Last week, President Nicolas Maduro ordered the use of the petro in state operations including those of the Pdvsa. Among the services to accept the petro are tourist services. However, Ariadna Zamora, head of a travel agency, told AFP that “Nobody has explained anything at all. How do you trust in something you do not know?”
On Wednesday, the news outlet reported that the Venezuelan government has set the minimum investment at 1,000 euros (~USD$1,234) for the petro. Anyone trying to register to buy the petro would see the message “Keep in mind that the minimum investment is 1,000 euros for bank transfers,” the news outlet wrote. In addition, “the funds must be transferred to state accounts in euros and rubles.” Citing that 13 million people earn the minimum wage in Venezuela which is equivalent to 4.5 euros (~$5.55) on the black market, the publication noted that the minimum investment amount “is unattainable for the majority” of Venezuelans, adding:
With 1,000 euros you can buy about 20 petros, because each one is worth 49.4 euros (61.2 dollars), according to the price reported on Tuesday by the Ministry of Petroleum.