As reported by CCN, Venezuela is going to issue its Petro cryptocurrency through a token sale. Out of the 100 million Petros Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro ordered, about 38 million will go to institutional investors, in a month-long presale set to begin on February 15. Only institutional investors will participate in the presale, and will reportedly be able to buy the cryptocurrency at a discount of up to 60 percent.
According to Reuters, Venezuela has now revealed that it will accept cryptocurrencies and hard currencies during the presale. The country’s fiat currency, the bolivar, will notably not be accepted. Carlos Vargas, the government’s cryptocurrency superintendent, bullishly appointed by Nicolás Maduro to “govern” the Petro and its transactions, stated:
“The presale and initial offer will be made in hard currencies and in cryptocurrencies. It is not going to be done in bolivars at this stage (…) Our responsibility is to put (the petro) in the best hands and then a secondary market will appear.”
Following the 38 million token presale to institutional investors, an additional 44 million Petros will be sold to the general public. Vargas added that, after the presale, the Petro could then be exchanged for the country’s local currency, which went down against the dollar over 3,400 percent last year.
This somewhat counters the information contained in a whitepaper, allegedly leaked from the government’s official website. The whitepaper claimed only those with access to the bolivar could purchase the Petro, and that the cryptocurrency’s blockchain would be public. The Venezuelan government denounced the whitepaper contained false information , as the real one will “soon” be made public.
As reported, the Petro is an oil-backed cryptocurrency announced late last year. Although the Petro token is set to be backed by the country’s oil reserves, holders won’t be able to exchange coins for the actual oil. The oil-backed cryptocurrency has been labeled a way to circumvent U.S. sanctions, and the U.S. Treasury recently warned Americans that investing in it could mean they’re violating the sanctions.
The opposition-run Venezuelan congress has outlawed Maduro’s Petro, as an “illegal and unconstitutional” instrument. The cryptocurrency is seen as an effort to “illegally mortgage” the country’s oil reserves.
Notably, Carlos Vargas also said that those mining other cryptocurrencies in Venezuela aren’t doing anything illegal. According to him, the activity is “now perfectly legal.” He revealed:
“We have had meetings with the Supreme Court so that people who have been victims of seizures and arrests in previous years will have charges dismissed.”
Many in the country have used cryptocurrencies to survive government failures, as covered by CCN. Last year, the government issued a crackdown on cryptocurrencies that, among other occurrences, saw miners being arrested by authorities, and a bitcoin mining center being destroyed.
At one point, the country’s state-owned internet service provider, CANTV, blocked bitcoin-related websites and mining pools. Moreover, the country’s biggest exchange, SurBitcoin, had to temporarily shut down operations, as Banesco bank closed its account.
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