Mon, Oct 26, 2015 - Page 15 News List

Venezuela sues ‘cyberterror’ forex site in US

FABRICATED RATES:The lawsuit was filed in an attempt to prevent the DolarToday Web site from publishing ‘fabricated’ Venezuelan black market exchange rates online

AFP, WASHINGTON

The DolarToday Web site is pictured on a computer screen in Caracas, Venezuela, on Friday.

Photo: Reuters

Venezuela’s central bank has filed suit in a US federal court charging that the Web site DolarToday, which focuses on the black market rate for the bolivar, is harming and destabilizing the country’s economy.

The suit filed on Friday claims that “DolarToday fabricates black market exchange rates that it publishes via the company’s Web site and smartphone applications,” law firm Squire Patton Boggs said in a statement.

The rates on the Web site do not represent any official Venezuelan fiscal policy, the firm added, without confirming which federal court is handling the suit. DolarToday is incorporated in the eastern US state of Delaware, but based in the Colombian city of Cucuta.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government deems “the use of technology from outside the country to weaken their nation’s economy a form of cyberterrorism,” the statement said.

“The lawsuit alleges that DolarToday is damaging Venezuela’s economy by exacerbating inflationary pressures, diminishing the purchasing power of the Venezuelan people and undermining the authority of the central bank.”

The suit does not seek to close the Web site, but rather for it to cease publishing Venezuela’s black market exchange rate.

On Friday, the site showed the black market rate at 820 bolivars to the US dollar — 130 times the lowest official rate for food and medicine. The site is blocked in Venezuela.

Venezuelans are set to vote in legislative elections on Dec. 6 amid a severe economic crisis and public disenchantment that have sent Maduro’s approval ratings to 20 percent.

Maduro’s government, battered by falling oil prices, is having little success reining in soaring inflation, chronic shortages and coping with what the IMF predicts will be an economic contraction of 10 percent this year.

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