U.S. sanctions Russia-based bank for financing Venezuela's Petro cryptocurrency

The U.S. Department of the Treasury is sanctioning EvryoFinance Mosnarbak, a jointly owned bank by Russian and Venezuelan state-owned companies, for being the "primary international financial institution willing to finance the Petro." The Petro is a cryptocurrency launched by the Venezuelan government that is supposed to be backed by the country's oil and mineral reserves as a means to circumvent U.S. sanctions. 

Following the launch of the Petro, the Trump White House pushed an executive order banning "all transactions related to, provision of financing for, and other dealings in, by a United States person or within the United States, any digital currency, digital coin, or digital token, that was issued by, for, or on behalf of the government of Venezuela."

According to the U.S. Treasury, "early investors in the Petro were invited to buy the cryptocurrency by wiring funds to a Venezuelan government account at Evrofinance," adding that "Evrofinance’s involvement in the Petro demonstrated Maduro’s hope that the Petro would allow Venezuela to circumvent U.S. financial sanctions." 

“The illegitimate Maduro regime has profited off of the suffering of the Venezuelan people,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “This action demonstrates that the United States will take action against foreign financial institutions that sustain the illegitimate Maduro regime and contribute to the economic collapse and humanitarian crisis plaguing the people of Venezuela,” he added.