Venezuela’s cryptocurrency, the Petro, is reported to have raised $5 billion from its initial coin offering (ICO). If true, the amount makes this the most successful ICO in history, according to TelSur.
President Nicolás Maduro made the disclosure during a meeting with members of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, stating that the funds would "buy everything our country needs, it is part of the economic solution.”
The Petro, the digital currency backed by Venezuela’s oil and mineral resources, received more than 186,000 offers of certified purchase from 127 countries, according to Maduro. The buyers included 3,523 entrepreneurs and 83,000 individuals. He added the government had received offers for a total of 82.5 million Petro units.
Last month, Maduro boasted that the virtual currency generated $735 million on the first day of its pre-sale.
Where’s the money?
However, Venezuela’s opposition party expressed doubts over Maduro’s claim and said that up to this day, there is no evidence of any money raised from the Petro ICO. The group has criticized the cryptocurrency and labeled it a scam.
There is also suspicion that buyers of the coin have not received any Petro yet. The report indicated that the NEM address supposed to be holding the fund is not showing any movement.
Maduro is pinning high hopes on the Petro to revitalize Venezuela’s struggling economy, which has been crippled by sanctions from Washington that block American investors from buying Venezuelan debt. The president has said that the cryptocurrency, backed by at least five billion barrels of oil, “would allow Venezuela to advance in issues of monetary sovereignty, to make financial transactions and overcome the financial blockade.”
Last January, the US Treasury Department warned American entrepreneurs and individuals not to buy the Petro as they would thus violate the sanctions against Maduro’s regime. The Treasury sees the crypto coin as a form of providing credit to Venezuela.
Emboldened by the "success" of the Petro, Maduro announced last month that his government was also preparing the launch of a gold-backed virtual currency.
The president was cited as saying:
"I don’t want to get ahead of things, but we have prepared a surprise, a gold-backed ‘petro,’ which will have the same parameters as the oil-backed ‘petro.’”