Crypto trading platform Uphold said it will be withdrawing support for users in Venezuela due to sanctions imposed by the United States government.
In a Thursday announcement, Uphold said “owing to the increasing complexity of complying with U.S. sanctions” the platform would “very reluctantly” be moving out of Venezuela. The platform advised users to withdraw their funds as soon as possible, noting it would halt trading for Venezuela-based clients on July 31, with all accounts “fully restricted” starting on Sept. 30.
“As a U.S. financial institution, Uphold has to comply with U.S. sanction programs administered by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), including those against the government of Venezuela, state-owned entities and their employees,” said the platform. “Without a change in applicable law, or specific permission from OFAC, these regulations may prohibit us from releasing funds to a small number of our Venezuelan customers.”
Many of the sanctions currently imposed by the U.S. government against Venezuela-based entities went into effect in August 2019, when the previous administration barred transactions with U.S. citizens and companies in addition to ordering all Venezuelan government assets in the United States to be frozen. In May, President Joe Biden eased some of the sanctions, focusing on restrictions around U.S.-based oil companies including Chevron.
Prior to many of these economic measures, the Venezuelan government was reportedly able to use cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) to evade sanctions in certain circumstances. The country was also one of the biggest leaders in crypto peer-to-peer transactions in 2021 according to blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis.