Russia Says Venezuela Has Not Offered to Pay Debt in Petro Coin

A Russian official has refuted claims that Venezuela offered to repay its debts in its newly-launched Petro cryptocurrency, Reuters reported.

As Reuters reports, Konstantin Vyshkovsky, head of the Russian finance ministry’s state debt department, told reporters that no cryptocurrency-based debt repayments were on the horizon.

The update came a week after Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro announced that the Russian ruble would be one of the handful of fiat currencies freely convertible with Petro. The others are the Chinese yuan, Turkish lira and the euro. “Starting March 23, all legal and physical entities will be able to purchase the petro directly […] within the next 15 days for convertible currencies,” Maduro said.

Petro, a state-sponsored cryptocurrency backed by Venezuela’s oil reserves, continues to cause rifts after it was launched in February, with U.S. president Donald Trump outlawing purchases by U.S. citizens earlier this month.

The coin was initially tipped to raise $5.9 billion in token sales, with Maduro claiming the state raked in $735 million in the first day of its presale alone.

At the same time, a Time magazine article cited anonymous sources claiming Petro had received Russian support and input since 2017, due to the appeal of bypassing western sanctions.

Russia and Venezuela last year signed a debt restructuring deal allowing Caracas to make “minimal” payments to Moscow over the next six years. Under the deal, Venezuela will pay Russia back a total of $3.15 billion over a 10-year period.