Venezuela’s Oil-Backed Crypto Petro Grows Thanks to a Little-Known Russian Bank

Venezuela’s oil-backed cryptocurrency, the Petro (PTR), has been surviving thanks to a little-known Russian bank, Evrofinance Mosnarbank, which has recently emerged as the only international financial institution willing to defy the US’ sanctions against the South American nation.

According to an Associated Press report, early would-be Petro investors who registered with Venezuela’s government and downloaded the cryptocurrency’s wallet were invited to buy it by wiring a €1,000 (about $1,190) minimum to a government-owned account at Evrofinance. The bank’s involvement seemingly further ties Russia with the Petro’s launch.

As covered, reports suggest Russia secretly helped Venezuela launch the oil-backed cryptocurrency, while a Russian official refuted the country’s involvement. Notably, Evrofinance’s biggest shareholders are two state-controlled Russian banks – sanctioned after Russia’s annexation of Crimea – and Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro, as the country’s government purchased a 49% stake in 2011.

As Russia’s involvement was being discussed, the Russian Association of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain awarded the Venezuelan government the Satoshi Nakamoto prize, as covered by CCN. Russia’s involvement, according to the Associated Press, may be linked to its relations with the west.

Per Claiborne W. Porter, the former head of the US Justice Department’s bank integrity unit, the country is increasingly gaining pariah status with the European Union and the US. Porter stated:

“Like kids on the playground, Venezuela and Russia think they are fighting a common bully in U.S. sanctions, so they’re going to try and form a united front.”

Historically, Russia has helped Venezuela with billions in debt relief, and is a major investor in the country’s oil industry. It has been a lifeline for Maduro, who’s currently on the verge of dealing with more sanctions coming from the Trump administration, if it goes ahead with presidential elections this month.

Back in March, Trump banned US citizens and residents from buying the oil-backed cryptocurrency, a move that Venezuela claims to have been “free publicity” that doubled the number of interested investors.

According to the Associated Press, after it inquired Evrofinance on its association with the Petro, all references to it were removed from the Petro’s wallet, which left interested buyers with no guidance on how to proceed…

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