Senators Warn about 'Nefarious' Cryptocurrency Use by Venezuela, Russia, North Korea

By Tritten, Travis J. | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, January 19, 2018 | Go to article overview

Senators Warn about 'Nefarious' Cryptocurrency Use by Venezuela, Russia, North Korea


Tritten, Travis J., Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


Two U.S. senators want to know what Steven Mnuchin and his Treasury Department are doing to counter the "nefarious" use of cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin by Venezuela, Russia, and North Korea.

Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Bob Menendez, D-N.J., sent a letter to Mnuchin on Friday warning that Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro was planning to create his own digital currency, called the "petro" after the country's oil wealth. They asked whether Treasury can modify existing sanctions on Venezuela to block Maduro.

"We are concerned that cryptocurrency could provide Maduro a mechanism by which to make payments to foreign lenders and bondholders in the United States, actions that would clearly thwart the intent of U.S.-imposed sanctions," Rubio and Menendez wrote.

Venezuela's government was targeted with sanctions for a variety of offenses including its violations of human rights, persecution of political opponents and crackdown against the press.

"Maduro has proven he will use every tool at his disposal to perpetuate his authoritarian objectives," they wrote.

Russia and North Korea, both targets of U.S. sanctions, have also shown an interest in taking advantage of cryptocurrency for "nefarious purposes" amid the recent global boom in Bitcoin, according to the senators. …

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