Senator Asks Govt. To Crack Venezuela's Attempt To Bypass Sanctions With Petro

Bill Nelson Maduro Petro 031518

A member of the US Senate has sent a letter to the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asking how the department could crack down on Venezuela's attempt to bypass US economic sanctions by launching a national cryptocurrency.

In a letter sent to Steven Mnuchin, Florida senator Bill Nelson said he was concerned by recent reports that "rogue regimes" in Venezuela and Russia seek to use cryptocurrencies to get past the U.S. and international sanctions.

He called on the head of the national exchequer not to allow Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to circumvent the punishment, which Washington imposed on his regime for violation of human rights, political repression and widespread economic deprivation.

The Maduro administration launched the pre-sale of Petro on February 20 to ease the country's economic crisis, and circumvent U.S.-led sanctions.

Inflation in the socialist nation has spiraled, creating food shortages. The national currency bolivar has lost its value.

The Government claimed its oil-backed cryptocurrency raised $5 billion, but the Opposition-controlled National Assembly declared the Petro as illegitimate.

The lawmakers lashed out against the pre-sale, which, according to them, is simply a symptom of the country's ongoing political crisis.

The National Assembly's stand is not expected to have any influence on the government, as the Constitutional Assembly, which is loyal to Maduro, had stripped the former of its legislative powers.

Nelson, a senior member of the Senate's armed services committee, is a vehement critic of the authoritarian regime in Caracas. He has repeatedly urged the Trump administration to enact harsher sanctions on Venezuela, and to consider cutting off imports of Venezuelan oil.

Nelson joins senators Bob Menendez and Marco Rubio, who in January had sent a joint letter to Mnuchin asking how the department will move to prevent Venezuela from using the "petro" to bypass American sanctions.

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