U.S. warns investors over Venezuela's 'petro' cryptocurrency

WASHINGTON, Jan 16 (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury has warned U.S. investors to approach Venezuela's proposed "petro" cryptocurrency with caution, saying that it may contravene U.S. sanctions against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

"Available information indicates that, once issued, the petro digital currency would appear to be an extension of credit to the Venezuelan government," a Treasury spokesman told Reuters on Tuesday, citing U.S. sanctions that prohibit dealings in new debt from the Venezuelan government or its state oil company PDVSA.

"The Venezuelan petro currency could therefore expose U.S. persons to legal risk," the spokesman added. (Reporting by Lesley Wroughton, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)