Venezuela in legal battle to get its gold back from Bank of England
The UK’s High Court is set decide this week on the fate of Venezuela’s gold held by the Bank of England, with the Venezuelan government and the opposition fighting for the overseas bullion reserves.
Venezuela’s central bank wants the country’s gold back to battle the coronavirus outbreak, by selling it to buy medicine and equipment, as the number of infections in the country rises. Last month, it filed a claim demanding that London release more than $1 billion in gold to address the emergency situation.
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Despite assurances from Caracas that the funds from the gold sale would be directly transferred to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to prevent it from being used for other purposes, the country’s opposition is against the returning of the precious metal to the Venezuelan government. Lawyers for the country’s self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido are reportedly insisting that he has the right to assert Venezuela’s claim to the gold held in London, as the US and its allies recognize him as the nation’s leader.
The hearing, which began in London on Monday, is set to last four days. When the process started, the lawyer representing the Maduro government called on the court to disentangle law and politics, adding that approval of a government has nothing to do with its formal recognition.
The Bank of England is the second-largest gold storage facility in the world after the New York Federal Reserve; it keeps nearly $250 billion-worth of gold owned by foreign governments, including Venezuela. Caracas has made several unsuccessful attempts to repatriate its assets from the UK, since becoming subject to US sanctions.
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