British Justice denies the Government of Venezuela the return of its own 31 tons of gold for the purchase of food and medicine.For the United Kingdom, according to the judge, Juan Guaidó is “unequivocally” “interim constitutional president” of the South American country.
The British High Court has decided this Thursday to dismiss the request by Venezuelan Government for the return of 31 tons of gold, valued at more than 1,000 million dollars, which are being held by the Bank of England. For the United Kingdom, according to Judge Nigel Teare, Juan Guaidó is “unequivocally” the “interim constitutional president” of the South American country and it is his “ad hoc” administration that can access these gold reserves.
Teare’s decision comes after a dispute over these resources after the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV), chaired by Calixto Ortega, filed on May 14 a lawsuit against the Bank of England in order to obtain and sell Venezuelan ingots, to transfer resources to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and thus acquire necessary food and medicine for the Caribbean country in the midst of the pandemic.
In this way, neither the opposition nor the international community would accuse the Maduro government of wanting to use the money for other purposes. “Every minute and hour that passes means people who can lose their lives due to the virus, and Venezuela requires their resources,” said Vice President Delcy Rodríguez.
However, the Bank of England alleged that it did not know who was the legitimate owner of the Venezuelan gold. Therefore, Teare decided that he should first clarify who his legitimate representative was, and then discuss his surrender. Now, this decision could open the door for Guaidó to also appropriate other resources withheld in various foreign banks.
A dispute dating back to 2018
Access to gold reserves was already denied in 2018, when the Maduro government, amid growing international sanctions, asked the Bank of England to release the gold it kept under its vaults. But in January 2019, this request was denied. Back then, the bank alleged that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson only recognized Guaidó as a legitimate president, after the opposition MP declared himself in a plaza.
With this recognition, Guaidó appointed José Ignacio Hernández as legal representative abroad and asked the then Prime Minister Theresa May, and the Bank of England authorities, to refuse to deliver the ingots to the Maduro government, alleging that ” would use for corrupt purposes. ”
What does Venezuelan gold do in London?
For decades, Venezuela has stored gold that is part of the BCV’s reserves in foreign banks, both in Europe and in the US, a very common practice in small nations, as a form of economic protection and safeguard.
In 2011, then-President Hugo Chávez repatriated nearly 160 tons of gold, arguing the country’s need for physical control of assets.
But the gold that Venezuela had in the Bank of England, and which is today the subject of the dispute, remained in the vaults of the British institution, where the reserves of at least 30 countries of the world lie, since London is known as the center world trade in this precious metal.
A Central Bank cannot, once it has a gold reserve, keep it or not return it to its rightful owner, unless there is a breach of the conditions established in the contract. But that is not the case in Venezuela.