Venezuela has failed to provide evidence that its new national cryptocurrency, launched by Nicolás Maduro’s socialist regime, has raised any money at all, cryptoanalysts have claimed.
Last week, Maduro claimed to have raised $735 million for its “petro” pre-sale, a cryptocurrency supposedly backed by the country’s considerable oil reserves.
“Today, a cryptocurrency is being born that can take on Superman,” Maduro declared.
Venezuelan crypto analyst Alejandro Machado details how despite claiming to have raised such a figure, the petro wallets do not actually allow people to buy the currency:
As of today, the official website allows you to register — if you’re patient enough to endure a myriad of errors — maybe you’ll get a confirmation email hours later, which you’ll have to click before the timeout expires and only then you can tell the government how much you’re willing to donate to their cause of ruining Venezuela. And when you click the button to buy, nothing will happen.
You can register with a fake name and passport and say you’re going to buy a gazillion PTR. That’s what was launched. There’s no way to actually buy the damn thing or set up a petro wallet.
He also points to how they have failed to provide any proof whatsoever:
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, and the evidence here is quite weak. The NEM blockchain (the network for transferring PTR) allows anyone to see the full record of transactions, and there have been zero — all petros are controlled by one address.
So how exactly did they raise that much money? On promises that they’ll send investors PTR in a few days? Who is that gullible?
He goes to explain that the figure provided by the government is an “anchor” designed to stick in people’s heads, comparing it to numerous lies put out by the regime, such as resounding electoral victories to false figures about poverty:
It’s newsy and it’s part of the strategy to sell their coin to as many people as possible. Combine it with the completely made-up $60-per-petro price (remember, the oil backing is false), and an attractive 60% discount (a mind trick – 60% off an arbitrary price), and you’ve got yourself a good strategy to exploit human irrationality and scam fools.
In January, the currency was declared illegal by Venezuela’s democratically elected National Assembly, who described it is an illegal attempt to mortgage the country’s oil reserves while warning that it could be rendered worthless should Maduro be ousted from power.
However, such advice has already been overruled by Maduro’s increasingly authoritarian regime, which is desperately trying to raise hard currency as the country’s economic and humanitarian crisis continues to deepen.
Even if the figure of $750 million were correct, it would do little to ease the country’s overall debt burden, which stands closer to $200 billion.
Maduro claims the initiative will also help Venezuela “advance in issues of monetary sovereignty” by bypassing economic sanctions imposed by the United States, with the State Department already banning people from investing in the currency.