UK rules on Venezuela’s gold

Britain’s top court turned away President Nicolas Maduro’s bid to repatriate his country’s own gold

The UK High Court rebuffed a demand by the Venezuelan government to be granted access to some $1 billion worth of the country’s gold reserves that are currently stored at the Bank of England, Reuters reported on Friday.

According to the report, Britain’s top court rejected a recent decision by the Venezuelan Supreme Court, which had backed President Nicolas Maduro’s request to have the gold repatriated from the UK. However, London recognizes opposition figure Juan Guaido as the legitimate Venezuelan president.

“I have… concluded that the Guaido Board succeeds: that the STJ {Venezuelan Supreme Court} judgments are not capable of being recognized,” the judge was cited as saying, effectively giving Guaido free reign over the assets.

Both Maduro and Guaido appointed boards to the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV), but issued conflicting instructions for the gold reserves. Lawyers representing Maduro’s BCV board said he planned to sell some of the gold to finance Venezuela’s campaign against the Covid-19 pandemic and support the country’s healthcare system. However, according to Guaido, Maduro seeks the gold in order to pay off his administration’s foreign debts.

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The UK recognized Guaido as the rightful Venezuelan president in early 2019, along with some 50 other countries. Upon his recognition, Guaido asked the Bank of England not to grant Maduro’s government access to the country’s gold it holds. Maduro’s BCV board then sued the Bank of England in an effort to reclaim the funds.

Experts say the UK court’s decision is unprecedented, because it amounts to a country’s constitution being interpreted by a court of a different country.

Some 31 tons of Venezuelan gold worth roughly $1.5 billion are currently held at the Bank of England.

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