(ARS TECHNICA) – The U.S.-based website that publishes a daily unofficial exchange rate between American dollars and Venezuelan bolivares has recently filed a vigorous defense in a strange international lawsuit. The site, DolarToday, was sued in October 2015 by the Central Bank of Venezuela (CBV) in federal court in Delaware, where the site is based.
In its bizarre and bombastic civil complaint, the U.S.-based lawyer for the CBV argued that the three Venezuelan-American men who run the site are engaged in "cyber-terrorism" designed to create "the false impression that the Central Bank and the Republic are incapable of managing Venezuela’s economy."
The CBV formally accuses DolarToday of violating a major anti-racketeering and criminal conspiracy statute (RICO Act), false advertising, unjust enrichment, and strangely, breaching a Venezuelan civil statute that refers to "causing harm." (Obviously, an American federal court has no ability to adjudicate claims made under Venezuelan law.)
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To put it mildly, the Venezuelan economy has been in something of a tailspin in recent years. Its authoritarian president, Nicolas Maduro, the successor of strongman Hugo Chavez, has been unable to rein in skyrocketing inflation (now near 100 percent) and a massively depressed economy. Recent press reports have detailed that many people are unable to buy basic goods like diapers and cooking oil. This week, the Financial Times described the country as being on the "edge of a political crisis."