Venezuela’s oil-backed cryptocurrency, the Petro, was the work of a joint collaboration between Venezuelan and Russian government officials with Putin’s personal approval, Time Magazine said Tuesday.
Citing anonymous sources close to the ‘half-hidden joint venture’ between Venezuelan and Russian officials, Time Magazine is reporting that Russian president Vladimir Putin signed off on Kremlin aiding Venezuela in launching the Petro – the world’s first state cryptocurrency.
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, today’s 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. The two Russians were also thanked by the President ‘for aiding his fight against American “imperialism”’, the report added.
“Of the two Russians who also signed agreements with the government to help develop the petro one, Denis Druzhkov, CEO of a company called Zeus Trading, was fined $31,000 and barred from trading for three years by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for fraudulent trading in futures’ contracts,” read an excerpt from a separate investigative report by the Associated Press. “The other, Fedor Bogorodskiy, lives in Uruguay and was described by the government as director of a company, Aerotrading, whose website consists of a single home page with no company information.”
“According to an executive at a Russian state bank who deals with cryptocurrencies, senior advisers to the Kremlin have overseen the effort in Venezuela, and President Vladimir Putin signed off on it last year,” the Time report added.
The state bank executive reportedly added:
“People close to Putin, they told him this is how to avoid the sanctions. This is how the whole thing started.”
While the Kremlin did not respond to communication from the magazine, Moscow’s Finance Ministry insisted that none of Russia’s financial authorities were involved in developing or launching the Petro. The Venezuelan government did not respond to the magazine for comment either.
The revelations come within a day of US President Donald Trump’s executive order banning American citizens and residents within the country from trading or acquiring the cryptocurrency.
Meanwhile, Maduro congratulated Putin on the latter’s recent re-election victory that confirms Putin’s continuing role as Russia’s President.