USA bans use of Venezuela cryptocurrency, imposes new sanctions on senior officials

David Smolansky a leader in exile of Venezuela’s opposition in Washington DC

The Trump administration imposed fresh economic sanctions on the leftist government of Venezuela on Monday in a move aimed in part at stopping use of digital currency, but did not impose a long-threatened ban on the country's oil exports.

In an executive order that took effect immediately upon its issuance, President Donald Trump declared illegal all USA transactions related to Venezuelan digital currencies, coins or tokens.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro delivers a speech during a rally to commemorate the 57th anniversary of the end of Venezuelan dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez's regime, in Caracas on January 23, 2015. Maduro appeared on TV last month with Jimenez and Russian businessmen to sign a contract opening petro to global buyers. "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 USA persons to avoid".

But all that changed when Jimenez started working with Maduro for the petro.

"Gabriel came to our office and said he wanted to learn how to support freedom and democracy", Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement.

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The Venezuelan government has been under pressure to stabilize the country as record money outflows and falling revenues from oil sales have hampered the economy in recent years. Few economists gave the scheme much chance of success.

If you've eyeing Venezuela's Petro digital currency, you're out of luck. The Venezuelan government has stated that it guarantees that it will receive the Petro as a form of payment for national taxes, fees, contributions and public services.

Of the two Russians who also signed agreements with the government to help develop the petro one, Denis Druzhkov, CEO of a company called Zeus Trading, was fined $31,000 and barred from trading for three years by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for fraudulent trading in futures' contracts.

The U.S. government is warning anyone who trades in petro to Venezuela that they may be in breach of the sanctions. "Doing nothing would be irresponsible".

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