Yesterday, Nicolas Maduro, the embattled President of Venezuela, said that the Bank of England should return the Venezuelan gold that it holds in its vaults.
In an interview with the BBC, Maduro stated: “They have sequestered billions of dollars in gold in London that are ours – that is money to buy supplies, raw materials, food, medicines. They have sequestered $1.4bn [£1.09bn] for many months, that we are going to use to buy food, medicines in Euroclear.”
Initially, the Bank of England has refused to surrender control of the gold to the regime of Maduro. It cited some operational issues around insurance and shipping.
Venezuela then had plans to trade the gold with other central banks instead of repatriating it.
The opposition of Venezuela that is led by Juan Guaido, the president of the National Assembly, wrote a note to Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, and the Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, asking them not to sell or transfer the gold.
Guaido wrote: “There is no one with legitimate authority to act in the name of the Venezuelan Central Bank.”
Last week, Jeremy Hunt, the UK foreign secretary, said that the UK had recognised Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela. Meanwhile, reports surfaced that the Bank of England had barred the transfer of gold.
In the BBC interview, Maduro said that there was “more or less 80 tonnes” of gold that held in London which he hoped would not be “robbed” from Venezuela.
He stated: “It’s protected by the central banks. It’s gold that belongs to the central bank of Venezuela. And I hope that the international law is respected. And the Central Bank of Venezuela is respected. And that hopefully, the law will prevail.”
As a response to a question about whether Venezuela would allow foreign aid convoys through its borders, Maduro stated: “They should send a convoy with the dollars they have stolen from us. Send a convoy with the gold with the 80 tonnes. Let it come, the convoy with money. It’s our money. With that, we could solve all our country’s problems.”
A spokesperson for the Bank of England stated: “As you would expect, the Bank does not comment on individual customer relationships. In all its operations, the Bank observes the highest standards of risk management and abides by all relevant legislation. Before going ahead with any transaction, the Bank needs to be satisfied that the counterparty has the authorisations necessary to request the transaction, that all relevant sanctions are complied with and that there is no evidence that the transaction will involve relevant criminal activity.”