White House bans Venezuela's digital currency

ANI | Updated: Mar 20, 2018 06:58 IST

Washington D.C. [United States], March 20 (ANI): United States President Donald Trump">Donald Trump's administration on Monday announced that it was broadening sanctions against Venezuela by blacklisting four government officials, and banning the country's new Petro cryptocurrency, which President Nicolas Maduro created last month to circumvent financial sanctions on his economically strapped nation.

The U.S. officials warned that the currency was a "scam" by President Maduro's government to further undermine democracy in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) country.

The White House said that the new measures were intended to send a message to Maduro's government, which it has accused of corruption and repression, and that the United States remained focused on the economic devastation in Venezuela, holding the president and his associates directly responsible for creating the conditions there, The New York Times reported.

The intensification of sanctions comes as President Trump prepares to attend the summit of the Americas next month in Lima, Peru, where the crisis in Venezuela will be a central issue.

Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to deliver a speech this week at the Organization of American States in Washington, where he plans to call out "the Maduro regime's lawless actions," according to a spokeswoman.

The sanctions also come just two months before Maduro is to stand for re-election in a race he is expected to win given his control of Venezuela's political and judicial machinery.

The United States is among the countries that have declared they will not recognise the results.

Venezuela is the first country to issue its own digital currency, and the government appears to view the Petro as its best hope for reaching the international markets at a time when most investors have turned their back on the country. (ANI)