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The Weirdest Prediction Markets on Augur Right Now

Do you believe in God? Would you put your cryptocurrency holdings on it?

Augur, an ethereum-based platform for betting on the outcome of real-world events, aims to be a repository of crowd-sourced knowledge for journalists, investors and policymakers, as well as an effective tool for hedging against adverse outcomes.

But it’s also become one other thing: a hilarious place to troll.

Forums for questioning a higher power are just one of many markets that currently exist on the decentralized prediction market, developed by the non-profit Forecast Foundation and funded with one of the world’s first token sales in 2015.

That token sale took place before people were even using the word initial coin offering, or ICO, to refer to these types of crypto fundraising schemes, and the project went through the ICO boom in beta – with the developers testing and vetting one of the most hotly-anticipated launches in crypto history.

As such, when it launched on ethereum’s live blockchain last month, it briefly surpassed the most famous decentralized application, CryptoKitties, in terms of the number of users. Although enthusiasm has since dipped markedly.

So far, most of Augur’s markets – and the vast majority of the trades on the platform – deal with relatively vanilla topics like the outcomes of sporting events or the prices of crypto assets. But a few take a truly dark turn, gauging the likelihood that prominent figures will be assassinated or that terrorist attacks and mass shootings will occur.

Others, though, are just goofy, evoking the cryptocurrency community’s peculiar obsessions, wild rumors and the sorts of riddles a bridge troll might ask before letting you pass.

So here’s to the Augur users who have selflessly donated their time and potentially their funds – market creators post a bond in the platform’s native REP tokens, which they lose if a market is deemed “invalid” because the outcome cannot be verified – all just to brighten their fellow users’ days.

In no particular order, here are a few of the weirdest markets on Augur today.

Vitalik’s girlfriend

Vitalik Buterin, creator of ethereum, the world’s second-most valuable blockchain, enjoys the kind of wealth and notoriety few 24-year-olds have.

But does he have a girlfriend? And if not now, when?

These questions have vexed the crypto community enough to spawn a dedicated article – one that’s apparently been viewed over 18,000 times. And now, indelibly etched into Buterin’s own creation, there’s an Augur market for it too.

Buterin himself must confirm the relationship, according to the market’s terms, and the couple must have been together for at least one full day.

It’s worth noting here that (as with many Augur markets) nobody has bet on this one at the time of writing.

Are you there, God?

Ostensibly, Augur markets must be based on verifiable events, but Augur is a platform without moderators, so that’s become more of a guideline.

As mentioned above, the perfect example: someone has posed the question, “Does god exist?”

They’re apparently in no hurry to find out, as the market expires at the beginning of 2020. And the resolution source must be the “news media.”

The heathen users that initiated the market give the creator of the universe a 10 percent chance of existing. No money is at stake at the time of writing.

SAFU or not SAFU

Naturally, Augur users haven’t passed up on the chance to sprinkle the platform with their particular flavor of memes.

Titled “FUNDS ARE SAFU?” one market references a bizarre – but popular – YouTube send-up of Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao’s attempt to reassure users that their crypto holdings on the platform were safe.

Looking at the market’s details, however, it appears not to be a joke, but a serious – if vaguely worded – question about whether Binance will be hacked: “Will the security of https://www.binance.com/ be negatively affected such that there is a newsworthy loss of money?”

The market expired without any bets having been placed.

Does not compute

Competition is stiff, but the trolliest market currently active on Augur may well be this restatement of the liar paradox – the sort of query one might use to incapacitate a murderous supercomputer.

For the uninitiated, the statement “this sentence is false” is a paradox because, if the statement is, in fact, false, that means it checks out. So it’s true.

If the statement is true – by being false – then it violates its own premise: it has to be false.

Thinking about this paradox goes back to at least the fourth century BCE, making it one of humanity’s longest-running time wasters. Adding a pinch of circular meta-salt to this concoction, the market creator made the point of reference for this market Predictions.Global, a site that scrapes data from Augur.

The pee tape

The allegation that Russian authorities possess compromising material on U.S. president Donald Trump is one of the stranger stories to emerge from the 2016 election.

The existence of this compromising material – originating from a collection of documents prepared by a former British intelligence officer working (indirectly) on behalf of Democrats – is often known as the “pee tape” due to its alleged content.

But it hasn’t been proven.

Judging by an Augur market on the topic, though, chances are around one in four that such a tape will emerge before the end of Trump’s first term.

Betting volume on the market has been very low, however, at the equivalent of less than $60.

McAfee’s bold prediction

Many of the most liquid and valuable markets on Augur deal with the prices of cryptocurrencies.

So at first glance, it’s hard to see what’s remarkable about one particular market predicting that the price of bitcoin will pass $1 million before 2020.

But there’s a clue in the fact that it’s tagged “McAfee.”

The anti-virus-software-creator-turned-cryptocurrency-hype-man has published many inadvisable tweets. Topping the list, however, is one from late 2017, when he predicted that bitcoin would hit $1 million and reiterated a promise he’d made earlier to “eat my dick on national television” if he proved incorrect.

Yet another Augur market gets to the, um, meat of the story.

And that’s probably enough Augur for today.

Monkey with banana image via Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Blockchain-Based Betting Platform Augur Now Features ‘Assassination Markets’

So-called “assassination markets” have now popped up on blockchain event betting platform Augur, Mashable media outlet reported July 24. Users are now betting on when certain public figures will die.

Created by the non-profit Forecast Foundation, Augur launched its Ethereum (ETH) mainnet-powered predictions platform on July 9, according to Fortune. On the platform, users can make a prediction about the outcome of any event.

If a user believes the outcome will happen, they buy shares with ETH. If a user believes the event will not occur, they can short the bet by selling shares. In either case, should a user’s prediction come true, they can profit from the result.

Users have recently posted bets on Augur regarding the deaths of a number of public figures, such as the U.S. president Donald Trump and CEO at Berkshire Hathaway Warren Buffett. The bet “Will Donald Trump (President of The USA) be killed at any point during 2018,” has acquired 50.3 shares as of July 23.

Augur “Assassination Market” Screenshot. Source: Mashable

Augur “Assassination Market” Screenshot. Source: Mashable

To ensure that a bet is settled properly, Augur has created a system of “reporters” who state the truthful outcome of a posited event. Reporters are essentially holders of Augur’s own REP token.

In order to report an event, users must stake REP on an event’s correct outcome to receive any of the settlement fees. If REP holders incorrectly report a result, they lose their tokens. If they do not participate in a ‘fork,’ or a highly disputed outcome to an event, they lose five percent of their REP. Passive holders of REP who do not participate in the bet settlement process are also penalized.

REP is trading at $30.16 at press time, having hit its peak of over $107 in January 2018 according to Coinmarketcap.

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Bitcoin (BTC) Was Used By Russian Agents to Meddle with the 2016 U.S Presidential Elections

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has recently released a Grand Jury indictment charging 12 Russian nationals with committing federal crimes that were primarily funded by Bitcoin (BTC). The 12 ‘agents’ who are members of the GRU (a Russian Federation Intelligence Agency) intended to interfere with the 2016 U.S Presidential Elections using these funds.

The agents are accused of engaging in the hacking into the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and the presidential campaign of Hillary ClintonDNC; and later managing to leak the information on the internet under the names of “DCLeaks” and “Guccifer 2.0” and through another entity.

To avoid detection, the 12 defendants used false identities while using a network of computers from around the globe, paid for using mined Bitcoin (BTC) and other means aimed at obscuring the source of the funds.

Deputy Attorney General, Rod J. Rosenstein, stated that:

The Internet allows foreign adversaries to attack America in new and unexpected ways. Together with our law enforcement partners, the Department of Justice is resolute in its commitment to locate, identify and seek to bring to justice anyone who interferes with American elections.

He added that:

Free and fair elections are hard-fought and contentious, and there will always be adversaries who work to exacerbate domestic differences and try to confuse, divide, and conquer us. So long as we are united in our commitment to the shared values enshrined in the Constitution, they will not succeed.

The indictment further states that the defendants managed to launder the equivalent of $95,000 to fund other costs related to their hacking activities. So far, there has been no American cited as being part of the indictment and plans to interfere with the 2016 Presidential Elections.

Recent developments indicate that President Trump has ordered the creation of a new task force to investigate crimes related to the use of crypto, especially those of cyber and crypto fraud. The task force will start working on a comprehensive strategy to deal with all these crypto related crimes.

[Photo source, wildcat.arizona.edu]

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New US Gov’t Task Force Highlights Digital Currency Fraud for ‘Particular Attention’

Digital currency fraud will form one of the areas of “particular attention” for a new U.S. anti-crime task force with participation from several government bodies, according to an executive order issued July 11.

The Task Force on Market Integrity and Consumer Fraud, which will have the U.S. deputy attorney general as its chair and associate attorney general as vice chair, seeks to “provide guidance for the investigation and prosecution of cases involving fraud on the government, the financial markets, and consumers.”

The executive order outlining the taskforce highlights areas of particular attention as “digital currency fraud,” as well as fraud affecting the general public, along with “money laundering, including the recovery of proceeds; health care fraud; tax fraud; and other financial crimes.”

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is among the project’s members, with chairman Jay Clayton saying the move would allow regulators to coordinate activities more efficiently.

“At the SEC we work every day to protect Main Street investors,” he said, continuing:

“This Task Force will allow us to build on the close partnerships we have with our fellow regulators and law enforcement agencies to deter and combat retail fraud.”

The task force’s other participants meanwhile are set to be the U.S. Department of Justice, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission.

The SEC and fellow regulator the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) had previously committed to close monitoring of cryptocurrency this year, seeking to ensure actors conformed to existing securities laws.

A ongoing joint operation with Canada meanwhile seeks to probe Initial Coin Offering (ICO) operators specifically, intended as a crackdown on illegitimate or suspicious schemes.

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Trump Task Force to Aid Crypto Crime Investigations

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday creating a task force that will focus in part on developing guidance for cryptocurrency fraud investigations.

The “Task Force on Market Integrity and Consumer Fraud,” according to the executive order, casts a wide net in its focus on consumer fraud. Yet notable for the crypto industry is its mention of “digital currency fraud,” which is one of a number of areas in which the task force will “provide guidance for the investigation and prosecution of cases involving fraud.”

It’s not clear in what form the guidance will take, but the task force may ultimately produce some kind of report for the Trump administration on this front.

Yet it’s not surprising that the administration would move in this direction. Earlier this year, the U.S. government indicated that it was working toward a “comprehensive” strategy around cryptocurrencies, with a focus on market fraud. In February, the U.S. Department of Justice formed a cybersecurity task force that includes cryptocurrencies as part of its mandate.

“A lot of these schemes involve bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies which do not flow through the traditional financial system,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said at the time. “What we’re working on now with our cybercrime task force is a working on a comprehensive strategy to deal with that.”

President Trump image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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US Ethics Office: Government Officials Must Disclose Crypto Holdings

Those working for the executive branch of the U.S. government must disclose their cryptocurrency holdings, ethics officials said Monday.

In a legal advisory released Monday, the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) clarified that digital currency is “property held … for investment or the production of income” instead of a “real” currency or legal tender. As a result, the OGE will now require executive branch employees to report holdings of digital currencies because, as outlined later in the release, they “may create a conflict of interest for employees who own it.”

The disclosure requirement is a major move, requiring members of the U.S. executive branch – officials working for the White House as well as the galaxy of federal agencies – to reveal their crypto holdings. Earlier this year, a member of the U.S. Congress submitted a petition seeking similar requirements for federal lawmakers.

The OGE’s document also specifically makes mention of initial coin offerings, or the sale of tokens prior to the launch of a particular network.

“Further, the reporting and conflict of interest principles set forth herein apply equally to other digital assets, such as ‘coins’ or ‘tokens’ received in connection with initial coin offerings or issued or distributed using distributed ledger or blockchain technology,” the OGE wrote.

While the document doesn’t establish when the process began, the OGE indicated that it moved to craft the guidance because government officials have been ” increasingly seeking guidance from their ethics officials concerning their financial disclosure reporting obligations.”

Notably, the OGE suggested that Monday’s release may not be the final word on the subject. In the future, officials wrote, actions by other government agencies could put the guidance in doubt and require further study.

“Given the evolving nature of virtual currency, other regulatory agencies may issue additional findings or guidance that provide further insight into how these assets should be treated for the purposes of the EIGA,” the OGE said.

Image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Potcoin Pumps Amidst Trump – Kim Summit in Singapore

In what is one of the more bizarre stories one would ever find in the cryptocurrency market, Potcoin (POT) has gained over 25 percent in the last 24 hours. The cryptocurrency which is currently ranked 300th according to CoinMarketCap seems to be soaring on the back of endorsements from NBA legend Dennis Rodman.

Potcoin to the Moon?

According to CoinMarketCap, the price of POT spiked in the last 24 hours. At the time of writing this article, the price is up by 25 percent. It began the day’s trading at $0.09 and is currently almost pushing $0.10. This price spike is despite the current troubles facing the more illustrious coins in the market. The highest ever recorded POT price was $0.43 in early December 2017. However, the legal marijuana-focused altcoin soon felt the heat of the massive correction that characterized the cryptocurrency market at the start of 2018.

The Trump – Kim – Rodman Trifecta

As it turns out, most of the current Potcoin pump is due to Rodman’s public endorsement of the altcoin. Arriving in Singapore, Rodman wore a shirt emblazoned with the cryptocurrency’s logo as well as a message of peace. The former NBA star even tweeted about his visit to Singapore, “to support both of his friends.”

Rodman has close ties with both U.S. President, Donald Trump, and North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. The two are meeting in Singapore in a historic summit after months of back-channel negotiations. Rodman while not being involved in the peace talks in any capacity said that he was willing his relationship with both parties to achieve a fruitful summit.

The association between Potcoin and Rodman can be traced to 2017 when the former NBA star became a spokesperson for the brand. Potcoin even sponsored Rodman’s 2017 trip to North Korea to meet with Kim Jong-un. During his visit, Rodman made sure to wear Potcoin merchandise.

The price surge in POT is most likely a direct consequence of Rodman’s advertising. The cryptocurrency market is known for being responsive to even the slightest nudges whether positively or negatively. Some have also remarked that the recent POT pump shows how “odd” the market can be.

About Potcoin

Potcoin is a cannabis-focused cryptocurrency created in 2014. POT is designed as a banking solution for the global legal cannabis market. The digital currency aims to facilitate instant transactions in the global legal marijuana ecosystem. POT currently has a market cap of $21.6 million.

It isn’t the only marijuana-focused cryptocurrency in the market – there is also Dopecoin and Cannabiscoin which virtually cater to the same business niche. In a recent Weiss rating report, Potcoin was identified as one of the cryptocurrencies to avoid.

What are your views on the recent Potcoin price surge? Is there any substance to Potcoin or is it a meaningless project? Keep the conversation going in the comment section below.

Image courtesy of Potcoin, CoinMarketCap, and Twitter (@dennisrodman).

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PotCoin Might Sponsor Dennis Rodman's Trip to Trump-Kim Summit

Retired basketball star Dennis Rodman might be headed to Singapore for the upcoming summit between U.S. president Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un – and he might have PotCoin’s help to dit.

Rodman – who has promoted the marijuana-themed cryptocurrency in the past – is reportedly mulling a visit to Singapore, according to his representatives. Having visited North Korea several times (though not without controversy), Rodman’s possible visit would present a celebrity twist to what is shaping up to a be a major geopolitical event this month.

According to the Washington Post, Rodman is “in discussions with” the Canada-based startup behind PotCoin to get backing for the trip. PotCoin spokesperson Shawn Perez told the newspaper that Rodman is on a “peace mission.”

Perez went on to tell the Post:

“The PotCoin team as a community has been incredibly supportive of Rodman’s peace mission from the beginning. We’re thrilled to see how the political climate has improved between North Korea and the U.S. since he became involved.”

According to the report, Rodman’s agent, Chris Volo, said details of the trip were still being worked out. Perez similarly did not provide any specifics as to the trip.

It is unclear whether Rodman will attend the summit itself or only be in Singapore during the event. The Washington Post reported that the U.S. State Department noted that Rodman is “not a representative of the U.S. government.”

PotCoin did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

Trump photo via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Berkeley City Council Moves Ahead With Pilot Program For Issuing City Bonds On Blockchain

The city of Berkeley, California has moved forward with an initiative to apply blockchain technology to public financing to raise funds for community projects, Bloomberg reports May 2. Last night the Berkeley city council unanimously voted to ask the city manager to consider a pilot program that proposes selling municipal bonds using blockchain technology.

The project, initiated by Vice Mayor Ben Barlett, aims to introduce another funding method to the city financial infrastructure that would ostensibly increase community investment by reducing the minimum bond price.

Barlett said that the pilot venture intends to launch “micro-bonds” which would allow the issuance of bonds in denominations in the range of $10 to $25. The typical minimum denomination for a municipal bond is $5,000. According to Barlett, people can more easily afford $10 than $5,000 for a bond, which would make investing in city projects a more viable option for average citizens.

Using blockchain would provide a ledger platform, upon which micro-bonds would be recorded as soon as they are issued. Barlett says that coupling micro-bonds with the blockchain is, “meant to get around Wall Street.”

Barlett added that, should the political process allow it, they could go one step further and support funding municipal projects via a tokenized currency. The idea was met by some skepticism from Councilwoman Susan Wengraf, who said:

“I don’t know much about it, but I know it’s very unstable. The examples used by other communities successfully [issuing mini-bonds] was based on dollars – cash, not cryptocurrency. I would be very happy to support the first part of the proposal and more skeptical about cryptocurrency.”

Berkeley started considering a municipal token in February, after a tweet from US President Donald Trump raised concern that the local university would lose its federal funding. Berkeley is also a sanctuary city, meaning that it doesn’t cooperate with the federal government to enforce immigration law. The Trump administration has recently been threatening to pull funding to sanctuary cities as part of their immigration reform.

According to city officials, issuing a Berkeley municipal token would be one way for the city to avoid budget shortfalls that are the result of resisting the current presidential administration.

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What Does Trump’s Ban On Venezuelan Cryptocurrency Petro Mean For Its Future?

US President Donald Trump issued an order on March 19 to effectively disallow American investors from participating in the initial coin offering (ICO) of the Venezuelan Petro, a cryptocurrency supposedly backed by the country’s oil reserves.

Caracas Capital managing director Russ Dallen told Bloomberg that the prohibition of investment in the Venezuelan Petro will lead to the decline in speculation and interest towards the cryptocurrency. Dallen noted:

“It’s a pretty big blow. Since most cryptocurrencies are not actually backed by anything real, cryptocurrency speculation is based on the greater fool theory — I can buy this at $100 because there is someone who is a bigger idiot who is going to buy it at $200. When you take the U.S. out of that equation, you reduce the interest and potential for that speculation.”

G20 and sanctions

President Trump has approved Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to enforce any regulation or policy to ensure that US-based investors are barred from purchasing the Venezuelan Petro. The decision of the US government to prohibit investment in the Venezuelan cryptocurrency was likely influenced by the additional sanctions imposed on four more government officials at the G20 summit.

The sanctioned officials are vice minister of internal commerce Willian Antonio Contreras, head of national treasury Nelson Reinaldo Lepaje Salazar, National Bank of Housing and Habitat director Americo Alex Mata Garcia, and former president of Venezuela Institute of Social Security Carlos Alberto Rotondaro Cova.

During a meeting with financial authorities and leaders from the world’s 20 leading economies, Mnuchin emphasized the US needs to combat the “kleptocracy of the Maduro regime,” as he stated:

“President Maduro decimated the Venezuelan economy and spurred a humanitarian crisis. Instead of correcting its course to avoid further catastrophe, the Maduro regime is attempting to circumvent sanctions through the Petro digital currency – a ploy that Venezuela’s democratically-elected National Assembly has denounced and Treasury has cautioned U.S. persons to avoid.”

The imposition of new sanctions against Venezuela at the G20 Summit and the US government’s strict prohibition of investment in the country’s state-issued cryptocurrency could be expected to disarrange most of the Venezuelan government’s existing plans to grow its cryptocurrency and raise even more capital through a second ICO.

Petro Gold

After reportedly raising over $5 bln from the Venezuelan Petro token sale, which would make it the biggest ICO to date overtaking the $2 bln Telegram ICO and $1 bln token sale of EOS, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced on February 21 that the country is preparing to launch yet another cryptocurrency called Petro Gold, a cryptocurrency that is backed by Venezuela’s reserve of precious metals.

“Next week I’m going to launch the Petro Gold, backed by gold, which is even more powerful, that will strengthen the petro,” said Maduro in a televised speech covered by Reuters.

President Maduro did not offer any additional information on the Petro Gold and continued to pursue the path of issuing new cryptocurrencies to cover the country’s debt. Opposition leaders within Venezuela criticized Maduro’s approach in handling the economic crisis of the country, describing the issuance of Venezuelan Petro and Petro Gold an “illegal debt issue.”

Investors who participated in the Petro token sale with US dollars and euros, also expressed their concerns about the solvency and transparency of the country’s government, specifically after it was revealed that the official whitepaper of the Venezuelan Petro did not guarantee token holders with the ownership of the country’s oil reserves.

Instead, the Petro provides investors with the ability to utilize the Petro as a form of payment of national taxes, fees, contributions, and public services, which removes the merit from investors participating in the token sale.

“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela guarantees that it will accept Petro’s as a form of payment of national taxes, fees, contributions and public services, taking as a reference the price of the barrel of the Venezuelan basket of the previous day with a percentage discount of Dv. In this [way], it is guaranteed that the purchaser always has a recovery value adjusted to the investment,” the whitepaper reads.

Peter Todd at Genesis London

At Genesis London, a Blockchain conference that state-issued digital currencies are different from cryptocurrencies.

In countries like Sweden and South Korea that are significantly less dependent on cash, most of the money circulating within the country are digitized, through banks and financial institutions. Digitized cash can also be considered as digital currencies or digital assets.

Cryptocurrencies require decentralization and distributed financial networks in order to operate as permissionless and decentralized protocols without being affected by the control of central authorities. Todd explained:

“So most places have digital currencies already. Equally, most places you can transfer money digitally. Cryptocurrency is not about being able to move money digitally, it’s about auditing. In the case of decentralised cryptocurrency, it’s about the ability to move money and audit it without permission. But when you’re talking about a government currency, obviously there’s permission, a central authority and control — end of story.”

Todd further emphasized that the key aspect of cryptocurrencies is their ability to provide transparent audits through their public ledgers. Bitcoin for instance, displays all of its transactions on the Bitcoin Blockchain network, allowing anyone within the network to verify transactions.

“So the cryptocurrency part of it is about giving people better ability to audit what happened, audit what the supply is and audit what the transactions are. I think, in reality, a lot places don’t really care about that,” Todd added.

With the Venezuelan Petro and potentially, Petro Gold, it is still unknown whether the Venezuelan government will audit its assets in real-time, and allow investors to freely verify their transactions and holdings through a public ledger. If the government fails to provide audit results and does not develop its cryptocurrency on a public ledger like the Ethereum network, it will not be able to provide transparency to its investors.

Florida representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen also emphasized that the US should continue to impose more pressure on the Maduro regime by cracking down on the plans of the government to raise money with a method which violates international sanctions.