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Venezuela To Auction Petro To Private Firms Via Dicom

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The Venezuelan government has announced a plan to auction its national cryptocurrency Petro to private firms via Dicom, the country's foreign exchange platform, in a few weeks.

The Maduro administration's latest experiment with Petro, aimed to ease the country's economic crisis and circumvent U.S.-led sanctions, was announced by Vice President Tareck El Aissami in a meeting with businessmen Tuesday.

"The Petro is going to be our powerful international currency, above the dollar," he was quoted as saying.

Local banks can buy Petro with any major fiat currency such as dollar and euro, and at a discount until March 20, he told the business community.

The government had started the pre-sale of 82.4 million "oil-backed" Petro units on February 20.

President Nicolas Maduro claimed $30 billion was raised in the first week, and that it evoked overwhelming response from as many as 127 countries. The pre-sale closes on March 19.

El Aissami said companies will be able to use Petros to pay for imports of raw materials, but did not explain the legal backing fro such transactions.

Venezuela launched foreign exchange auction system called Dicom in May. At that time, the exchange rate was of 2,200 bolivars to one US dollar. The Venezuelan currrency's value plummeted heavily since then.

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