The news in the spotlight stated that if crisis-hit, Venezuela was hoping to pay off its US$3.15 billion debt to Russia with its new cryptocurrency, Petro. However, this rumor has been shut and slammed by the Russian Finance Ministry.
The head of the Russian Finance Ministry’s debt department, Konstantin Vyshkovsky, has said that: “Venezuela will not be paying any part of its debt to Russia with its cryptocurrency.”
Russia and Venezuela last year signed a debt restructuring deal allowing Caracas to make “minimal” payments to Moscow over the next six years. Under the deal, Venezuela will pay Russia back a total of $3.15 billion over a 10-year period.
The Petro was launched in February as the world’s first-ever official state cryptocurrency. Backed by Venezuela’s oil reserves wherein the value of a barrel of oil is directly pegged to the value of a single Petro token, the cryptocurrency was launched as a means to evade sanctions enforced by the United States.
Another news in the same context states that it was created with the help of senior Kremlin advisors, as part of a Russia-Venezuela joint venture. However, Artyom Kozhin, Deputy Director of the Information and Press Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, said that his country was not involved in creating Venezuela’s controversial Petro cryptocurrency, calling any speculation on this issue lies.
As reported previously, the Petro was first announced by Venezuelan president Maduro in December as a payment instrument to evade international economic sanctions and a blockade led by the United States. Maduro officially launched the pre-sale of the 82.4 million Petro tokens on February 20. Specifically, a recent report points to two key Russians involved as Maduro’s advisers on the Petro, with ties to major Russian banks and billionaires close to the Kremlin. Denis Druzhkov and Fyodor Bogorodsky were reportedly seated in the front row in the presidential palace during the much-publicized launch of the Petro last month.
“During the course of the meeting held on February 21, 2018 in Moscow, Venezuela’s Minister of Economy and Finance Mr. [Simon] Zerpa indeed handed over a booklet on the cryptocurrency to the Russian Finance Minister exclusively for the purpose of informing Russian partners about this project”, the Russian official stated over the weekend. “None of the parties mentioned discussed, or reviewed the topic of cryptocurrency use in Russian-Venezuelan cooperation.”