Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro wins fight with Bank of England in his battle to gain access to £800m of disputed gold in its vaults
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has won a fight with the Bank of England in his battle to gain access to £800m of disputed gold in its vaults.
The authoritarian ruler, who has been accused of human rights abuses, has won an appeal court ruling over the row.
Maduro wants to sell the assets but has been blocked by Bank officials on the basis that his hard-line government is not recognised by the UK.
Victory: Nicolas Maduro wants to sell the assets but has been blocked by Bank officials on the basis that his hard-line government is not recognised by the UK
The 57-year-old, who was reelected in a controversial ballot in 2018 which most opposition parties boycotted, says the bullion can help cash-starved Venezuela fight coronavirus.
But opposition leader Juan Guaido, recognised by the UK as Venezuela’s rightful leader, has accused Maduro of wanting to steal the gold.
Yesterday, the England and Wales Court of Appeal overturned a ruling in July that said the Bank of England could not lawfully release the gold to Maduro since the UK recognises Guaido as Venezuela’s leader.
In its judgement it said that although it was possible that the UK’s Foreign Office only recognised Guaido, in practice it deals with the Maduro government. Sarosh Zaiwalla, senior partner at Zaiwalla & Co, the law firm representing Maduro’s government, told the Financial Times: ‘Our client is very happy with this. The appeal has been allowed unconditionally.’
Vanessa Neumann, who is Guaido’s envoy in the UK, said: ‘It is an irony lost on no one that a regime accused of crimes against humanity is seeking to use the British court to illicitly finance itself.’
Venezuela is short of cash after the US imposed economic sanctions, crippling its oil exports.