On March 19, 2018, President Donald Trump signed an executive order barring American citizens and residents from undertaking transactions in or investing in digital currencies or tokens tied to the Venezuelan government which were issued on or after January 9, 2018.
Today's executive order almost explicitly targets the petro, an oil-backed cryptocurrency tied to Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), a Venezuelan state-owned oil and natural gas company.
In late February, Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro announced that the country had raised the equivalent of $735 million on the first day of the petro presale, but that figure could not be independently verified. At the time, the petro network had not yet launched – and it appears that the network still has not gone live.
Some spectators have worried that the petro could be used to undermine sanctions.
ETHNews previously reported when the US Department of Treasury cautioned that investment in the Venezuelan cryptocurrency could constitute a violation of US sanctions. Backers of the petro could be viewed as extending a line of credit to the Venezuelan government, said a spokesperson who went on to state, "The Venezuelan petro currency could therefore expose US persons to legal risk."
In January 2018, the opposition-led Venezuelan parliament invalidated the petro, calling it an illegal attempt to mortgage the country's oil reserves.