The crypto, intended as a blow against U.S. sanctions, was never accepted at home or abroad and was crippled by scandal.
The Venezuelan national cryptocurrency, the Petro (PTR) will cease to operate on Jan.
15, according to press reports. The coin was created in 2018 to help the country evade United States sanctions but was never widely used.
Petro’s shutdown was reportedly announced on the government-run website devoted to the coin,
but that website was not accessible at the time of writing.
The administrative section of the Venezuelan Patria website — reportedly the only place where the Petro traded — is only accessible by password.
The state-run, oil-backed crypto was launched after the country’s fiat currency,
the bolivar, declined sharply under pressure from United States sanctions and after Bitcoin
had already gained a firm foothold in the country. Issuance of the petro was ordered by Venezuelan
President Nicolas Maduro but was opposed by the parliament.
The coin achieved full functionality in 2020 but was never traded abroad,
despite efforts by the Maduro government to promote it to the 10 member states of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America.
Attempts were made to encourage its use domestically, but it was never made legal tender,
meaning its acceptance was not mandatory. Not even the Banco de Venezuela, the largest bank in the
country, would accept the petro without a presidential order forcing it to do so.
In June 2020, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a $5 million bounty
for the capture of Joselit Ramirez Camacho, who headed the National Superintendency of Crypto Assets,
which oversaw the petro. He is accused of having ties to international narcotics trading.
Ramirez Camacho was arrested in Venezuela in March 2023 on accusations of financial improprieties
within the national oil industry, and the agency he headed was closed for reorganization.
Its closure was later extended through March 2024. The investigation of the agency also resulted in
the closure of crypto exchanges and mining operations in the country.
The petro was not a central bank digital currency.
The Central Bank of Venezuela announced plans to create a CBDC in 2021, but those plans never came to fruition.