In its desperate quest for money, in the midst of an economic and health crisis, Venezuela can no longer even count on its gold. The Bank of England, where part of Venezuela’s reserves are stored, has refused to transfer $ 1 billion in gold to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
The British broadcaster says it received “ conflicting instructions over gold from rival groups claiming to represent the Central Bank of Venezuela ” One of the groups is supported by Nicolás Maduro and the other by Juan Guaido, who proclaimed interim president in January 2019, calling for “free and credible elections”.
Two camps compete
Sixty countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom recognize the legitimacy of Juan Guaido. Russia, Cuba and China recognize the authority of Nicolás Maduro. The two clans also vie for control of the central bank by appointing members to its Council.
Failing to receive the money, or confirmation that the transaction was going to be carried out, the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) mandated the law firm Zaiwalla & Co to prosecute the Bank of England and recover his gold.
“ There is no, or no sufficient basis for such a refusal Say the lawyers. “ The Bank of England has a moral obligation to allow Venezuela to sell the country’s gold to enable UNDP to effectively assist the people of Venezuela in the fight against Covid-19 », They still justify.
“ It is not the first time that the Bank of England has acted as an agent of plunder against the people. Today, it violates contracts and swindles nations by taking advantage of the pandemic. A crime against humanity “, got carried away on Twitter Samuel Moncada, representative of Venezuela to the UN.
Within the multilateral institution, the High Commissioner for Human Rights is concerned about the weight of the sanctions against the country and their effects on the fight against the coronavirus: Despite exceptions for imports of medical, food and humanitarian products, public services and the public continue to suffer from the financial sector’s zeal for compliance. ” .
The blockage in London is all the more serious for the country, that the request made by Nicolás Maduro for aid of 5 billion dollars to the IMF was rejected in mid-March. The reason is always the same: there is no “clear recognition” from the government.
In April 2019, the Bolivarian leader also urged Portugal to return the money “stolen” to Venezuela, demanding the restitution of $ 1.7 billion blocked by the Novo Banco establishment , owned by the Portuguese State and the American Lone Star fund (75%). In vain. An online petition has been launched to support this request. The Venezuelan oil company PDVSA for its part has seized a court in Lisbon to unblock payment orders in the amount of 400 million euros, according to the Portuguese press. There too in vain.
London, world gold center
Venezuela is particularly affected by the pandemic due to the dilapidated health services. Since the collapse of oil prices in 2014, the country has been going through an unprecedented crisis amid rampant inflation: hospitals have little medical equipment and some do not even have access to running water.
The Bank of England is the second largest gold storage center in the world after the Federal Reserve in New York. According to his site , the institution keeps in its coffers 400,000 gold bars or about 200 billion dollars. Many foreign central banks have a gold account with the Bank of England. This service gives them access to the liquidity of the London gold market. The British capital is the first place in the world to exchange the precious metal.
The Maduro regime has already tried in 2018 to repatriate gold to Caracas kept in British coffers. The request was refused by the Bank of England under pressure from the United States and Juan Guaido. Under Nicolás Maduro, gold reserves fell to 161 tonnes at the end of 2019 against 301 tonnes at the end of 2014, according to data from the World Gold Council.
The plan uses the precious metal as collateral to borrow money from financial institutions or governments. Over the defects and refunds, Moscow, Beijing, Citi, Deutsche Bank … Get their hands on Venezuela’s gold.