By Ria Novosti
Venezuela’s central bank has decided to allow individuals and companies to open U.S. dollar bank accounts, the Univision television channel reported on Sunday.
Foreign currency bank accounts have been banned in Venezuela since 2003. In February that year, the government established the Commission for the Administration of Currency Exchange (CADIVI), a body that grants authorization for releasing foreign currency at a preferred exchange rate.
U.S. dollars can only be legally obtained via the commission at the official rate of 4.3 and used to import essential items for the Venezuelan population. On the black market, exchange rates are significantly higher, while individuals charged with violating foreign exchange controls face criminal penalties.
The central bank’s decision is intended to improve Venezuela’s business environment. The country’s authorities have pledged however to keep strict controls of U.S. dollar bank accounts in order to ensure their legal origin.