President Trump bans the use of Venezuelan cryptocurrencies

Americans won't be able to buy or trade the oil-backed digital currency called the Petro.

Shara Tibken Former managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Shara Tibken
2 min read

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro in February launched an oil-backed cryptocurrency called the Petro. 

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If you've eyeing Venezuela's Petro digital currency, you're out of luck. 

President Donald Trump on Monday issued an executive order making it illegal for Americans to purchase any cryptocurrency issued by Venezuela as of Jan. 9. He authorized Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to implement whatever rules and regulations are necessary to enforce the executive order. 

The South American country has been hit hard by hyperinflation and a shortage of cash. Its currency has been rapidly losing value, and Venezuelan citizens have been suffering from food and medicine shortages. In an effort to boost the failing economy and raise international financing, President Nicolas Maduro last month started offering an oil-backed digital currency called the Petro.

The US, meanwhile, has issued sanctions against various Venezuelan leaders and has called on Maduro to distribute aid to his citizens and stop blocking foreign assistance offered to Venezuelans. The ban on the Petro in the US makes it more difficult for Maduro to raise funds, and the US has been considering issuing sanctions on Venezuela's oil sector, the last industry propping up the economy. 

"President Maduro decimated the Venezuelan economy and spurred a humanitarian crisis," Mnuchin said in a statement Monday that announced new sanctions. "Instead of correcting course to avoid further catastrophe, the Maduro regime is attempting to circumvent sanctions through the Petro digital currency -- a ploy that Venezuela's democratically-elected National Assembly has denounced and Treasury has cautioned US persons to avoid."

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