Venezuela’s government has said cryptocurrency mining is now “completely legal” as it plans the presale of its Petro coin for next month.

In comments during a TV address quoted by local news outlet TeleSur, the country’s newly-dubbed ‘cryptocurrency superintendent’ Carlos Vargas confirmed that citizens mining Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were not breaking the law.

Last year, Venezuela made headlines on several occasions after reports emerged that police were cracking down on mining operations, accusing those involved of sapping power from the national grid.

It is an activity that is now perfectly legal,” Vargas announced in a dramatic U-turn. He continued:

“We have had meetings with the Supreme Court so that people who have been victims of seizures and arrests in previous years will have charges dismissed.”

In the same address, Vargas confirmed that the highly controversial Petro cryptocurrency, initiated by President Nicolas Maduro, would go ahead with a presale February 20.

Petro had faced an uncertain future almost as soon as Maduro announced the scheme, with commentators suggesting investors would be hard to find given the raft of sanctions against Venezuela, which the President hoped the coin could help circumvent.

Venezuela’s opposition-run parliament, which has worked against the President at every chance it’s had since 2016, called the coin a ‘fraud‘ earlier this month.

Petro is designed to be backed by Venezuela’s oil reserves, with one token equalling one barrel. This would give the entire 100 million supply of Petro a market value of almost $6 bln.

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