Venezuela Sues UK over Frozen Gold Reserves, Loses CITGO Appeal

Daniel Fowler
May 21, 2020

Once transferred to the United Nations Development Programme, the funds would be used to buy healthcare equipment, medicine, and food to address the country's "COVID-19 emergency", the claim said.

This goes back further, though, the Bank of England has delayed the transfer of 31 tonnes of Venezuelan gold stored there to Maduro's government since 2018. A year ago the Bank of England was urged not to hand over the gold by opposition leader Juan Guaido, who said the funds would be used to "repress and brutalise the Venezuelan people".

The gold reserves of many developing nations are held in BoE vaults, with Venezuelan assets on its deposit reportedly worth around $1.7 billion. The Venezuelan central bank did not respond to a request to comment.

As oil prices collapse, the gold is a now an even more important source of wealth for Venezuela, which has been driven into extreme poverty under Maduro's socialist rule that's left its health system poorly prepared to deal with an outbreak.

"The foot-dragging by the Bank of England is critically hampering Venezuela and the UN's efforts to combat COVID-19 in the country", said Sarosh Zaiwalla, a London-based lawyer representing the central bank. It has reported 618 coronavirus cases and 10 deaths, so far.

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She added: "Social care has not had the same priority as the NHS and these services have not been treated as inexplicably linked". That data included all care home residents who died with coronavirus either at their care home or in hospital.

The legal claim seeks a court order "requiring BoE to comply with the proposed instruction".

The Venezuelan government filed a lawsuit to use its gold reserves held by the Bank of England in the fight against the coronavirus.

Venezuela has reportedly continued to sell gold to its ally Iran, which is also under USA sanctions, but even so its global reserves reached a 30-year low at the beginning of this year, Venezuelan Central Bank figures revealed.

Maduro's leadership is not recognised by a number of nations, including the United Kingdom and US.

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