Business

Ed Drake

Venezuela now using BTC to avoid US sanctions in airports: report

The government of Venezuela is no stranger to relying on cryptocurrency trickery to avoid sanctions, with the high profile launch of its oil-backed Petro token causing much controversy over the past year. Now, it appears the government has turned to use SegWitCoin (BTC) at airports, in a bid to circumvent the sanctions put in place by the U.S. authorities.

Local news outlet ABC reported that controversial socialist President Nicolas Maduro has approved the use of an app for collecting airport taxes which converts funds into BTC through several partners in China, Hungary and Russia.

The funds are then processed into U.S. dollar deposits, held in bank accounts controlled by the Venezuelan regime within these countries, contrary to U.S.-led international economic sanctions against the rogue state.

According to local media reports, this structure has been in place for over a year, and is seen as one of several unique methods being used by Maduro to keep government coffers topped up, despite the financial and economic sanctions imposed on the country.

The airport scheme is now expected to be rolled out nationwide, and is also expected to apply to aircraft refueling charges, which many airlines find it difficult to pay given the sanctions against state oil company PDVSA.

As per the reports, the structure is set to help the government raise money from refueling, which has proved impossible throughout 2019: “So far this year, the Venezuelan government has not received a dollar to refill the gas tanks because the airlines do not know how to pay for the service due to the blocking of the PDVSA accounts.”

Notably, the fact the scheme doesn’t touch the Petro at all has been seen as significant, given the enthusiasm with which the cryptocurrency was launched in 2018.

Drawing widespread international condemnation, the cryptocurrency appears now to have been replaced by BTC as the token of choice for the regime’s illegal fundraising, as well as for ordinary Venezuelans attempting to protect their personal wealth from government policy.

Described widely as a ‘failure,’ the Petro project was originally envisaged as the solution to Venezuela’s economic woes, including rampant hyperinflation, despite being considered unconstitutional.

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