The Venezuelan Ministry of Transport fixed in euros or its equivalent in Petro, a virtual currency created by the country’s government, the fees shipping companies must pay for mandatory services such as piloting, custody, towing, inspection and refloating for internationally registered vessels.
The rates published in the Official Gazette number 40,567 entered into force on May 3. “The rates will be paid to the National Institute of Aquatic Spaces (INEA) in the established currency (euro) or its equivalent in the multi-currency system adopted by Venezuela (Petro) in INEA bank accounts,” the resolution says.
This resolution of 73 articles replaced regulations in force since 2014 that established the payment of maritime services in dollars, through the banking system of the US.
The New York law firm of Freehill Hogan & Mahar said in a recent report that “foreign shipowners trading with Venezuela should exercise caution to be certain that any remittances made through the US financial system in connection with their Venezuelan trade are not being used to purchase Petros.”
The law firm added “in the wake of executive order 13827 and the INEA Circular, it is anticipated that US banks will scrutinize all the financial transactions related to Venezuela with great care, particularly those involving shipping.”
On March 23, the National Institute of Aquatic Spaces of Venezuela issued a circular, requiring all Venezuelan shipping agencies to pay foreign-flagged vessels or maritime services in the virtual currency.
The Petro is cryptocurrency, backed by oil reserves, promoted by the Venezuelan government in the midst of a severe economic crisis as a source of financing due to the fall in oil revenues, the main source of currency inflows into the country. The sale of Petro started in March.
On January 16, the US Department of the Treasury warned US investors that use of the cryptocurrency could cause legal problems.
On March 19, the White House, by means of an executive order, prohibited US citizens or persons in its territory from acquiring or negotiating any digital currency or digital asset issued by the Venezuelan government.
The US has also imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s government over charges of repeated violation of human rights and democratic rule. The sanctions include the prohibition of the US trading of new government and PDVSA bonds.
Sea News, May 14