February 16, 2018 / 6:51 PM / 4 months ago

Venezuela cryptocurrency to draw investment from Turkey, Qatar-official

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s new “petro” cryptocurrency will attract investments from Turkey, Qatar, the United States and Europe, the country’s cryptocurrency regulator said on Friday.

The new Venezuelan cryptocurrency the Petro logo is seen as Minister for University Education, Science and Technology Hugbel Roa talks to the media during a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela, January 31, 2018. REUTERS/Marco Bello

The government of President Nicolas Maduro, which says the petro will help skirt financial sanctions by Washington, has scheduled the first petros sale for Tuesday.

Skeptics say that concerns about Venezuela’s financial solvency will likely limit investor interest, while the U.S. Treasury Department has warned the petro may violate sanctions against the OPEC nation.

“On Tuesday, there will be quite a few announcements about the start of the process,” Venezuelan Cryptocurrency Superintendent Carlos Vargas said on the sidelines of a political meeting in Caracas.

“And there will surely be a lot of investors from Qatar, Turkey, and other parts of the Middle East, though Europeans and Americans will also participate.”

He did not elaborate.

The Venezuelan government has not provided full details about the petro. But advisers working for the government recommended that 38.4 percent of the petros should be sold in a private auction at a discount of 60 percent.

Venezuela is suffering quadruple-digit inflation and chronic shortages of food and medicine, which have spurred increased incidents of malnutrition and preventable diseases.

Maduro says his government is the victim of an “economic war” led by opposition politicians with the help of the government of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Sanctions levied last year by Washington block U.S. banks and investors from acquiring newly issued Venezuelan debt, effectively preventing the struggling nation from borrowing abroad to bring in new hard currency or refinance existing debt.

Reporting by Vivian Sequera; Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and J.S. Benkoe

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