If you thought that simply publishing online the exchange rate between the American dollar and Venezuelan bolivares was an innocuous act, then you’re not a member of the (fumbling, stumbling) Venezuelan government:
In its bizarre and bombastic civil complaint, the US-based lawyer for the CBV [Central Bank of Venezuela] argued that the three Venezuelan-American men who run the site [DolarToday] 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 is unlikely to adjudicate claims made under Venezuelan law.)
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.”
Reading the complaint from of the Banco Central de Venezuela, a Venezuelan government organization, counts as three separate readings, at least: of a federal civil complaint, of science fiction, and of low comedy.
Still, it’s a cautionary tale, too: that even the oddest claims, from the most unexpected quarters, may lead one into litigation.
Perhaps the maxim should be something along the lines of ‘expect the unexpected.’