Venezuela launches its controversial oil-backed cryptocurrency, the petro

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Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro is claiming that the country has raised $735 million in the first day of a sale for its controversial "petro" cryptocurrency.

The petro is different from almost all other cryptocurrencies in that it has the enthusiastic support of the state; Russian Federation reportedly also has considered creating its own cryptocurrency to skirt global sanctions.

The move is in part created to side-step sanctions by the United States, which past year accused the leftist Maduro government of undermining democracy, and prohibited U.S. investment houses from trading in new-issue Venezuelan debt. The short answer is: "It simply can't".

Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro initially announced Petro in December 2017, planning an offering of 100 million Petro tokens, valued at $6 million American dollars.

But the US Treasury Department has warned potential investors that buying the petro may be in violation of sanctions that stop US banks from buying debt from Venezuela.

"Today, a cryptocurrency is being born that can take on Superman", Maduro announced on Tuesday, referring to the U.S. as a comic character.

Maduro announced in early December that Venezuela - which is under sanctions from the U.S., as well as the European Union - was creating the digital currency.

Mr. Maduro has touted the petro as fulfilling the late Hugo Chavez's dream of upending global capitalism away from the dominance of the US dollar and Wall Street.

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"They have been trying to figure out ways to get around anti-money laundering sanctions provisions, and crypto is maybe one way they can do that", Toro told CNBC.

Venezuela's opposition won control of the National Assembly in a 2015 landslide vote that was their biggest electoral victory in almost two decades of socialist government.

Here is what we know about the new currency.

Bobby Ong, the co-founder of CoinGecko, a cryptocurrency ranking website, said the sale of the petro fits into a growing trend of asset-backed cryptocurrencies as investors look for digital coins backed by real-world assets.

While polls show the majority of Venezuelans plan to head to the polls, they overwhelming indicate they are apathetic about the current opposition field, which is lead by former governor Henri Falcon.

Venezuela has allocated five billion barrels of oil to back its new digital currency, which will be tied to the cost of a barrel of Venezuelan oil.

The Bitcoin-esque petro (the code for which is "PTR") is part of a drive to overcome the U.S.'s economic blockade against Venezuela and rescue the national economy.

The petro will not be a token on the Ethereum network, as was previously disclosed in a whitepaper provided by the government.

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