Venezuela's President Announces 'Petro' Token Pre-Sale

Nicolas Maduro, the president of Venezuela, has said the pre-sale of the country's proposed cryptocurrency – the "petro" – will launch next month.

Signing the petro white paper on Tuesday, Maduro stated that the initial sale of the token will commence on Feb. 20th. President Maduro also revealed that plans are being drawn up to use the petro – which is backed by commodity reserves, including oil – with a national ID card possessed by millions of Venezuelans, a Bloomberg report states.

Maduro further announced that mining centers are being setup at educational institutions to produce the token. This apprently has been revised from an initial draft proposal that the petro was supposed to be pre-mined before launch.

Maduro stated on state TV, according to Bloomberg:

"The petro will have a great impact, in how we access foreign currencies for the country and in how we obtain goods and services that we need from around the world."

The controversial token was announced back in December of last year, with the declared aim of bypassing financial sanctions.

The country's opposition-run congress soon after declared that petro is "illegal" and that it would be effectively borrowing against the country's oil reserves. As such, the move would violate laws that specify the legislature must approve government borrowing.

"This is not a cryptocurrency, this is a forward sale of Venezuelan oil," said legislator Jorge Millan at the time, calling it "tailor-made for corruption."

Additionally, on Jan. 22, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Robert Menendez denounced Venezuela's planned cryptocurrency in an open letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The two senators wanted to know how the department would move to prevent the country from using the petro to bypass U.S. sanctions.

They wrote:

"It is imperative that the U.S. Treasury Department is equipped with tools and enforcement mechanisms to combat the use of cryptocurrency to evade U.S. sanctions in general, and in this case in particular."

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