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UK Refuses to Return Venezuela’s Gold

Britain has rejected Venezuela’s request to withdraw $1.2 billion in gold stored in the UK.

The Bank of England blocked Venezuela’s attempts to retrieve $1.2 billion worth of gold stored as the nation’s foreign reserves in Britain.

The head of the Venezuelan central bank, Calixto Ortega, led a delegation to London last month in a bid to access the gold, sell it and retrieve the proceeds.

The attempts were “unsuccessful” as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the national security advisor to President Donald Trump John Bolton pressured the British to freeze the Venezuelan assets, reports the agency citing people familiar with the matter.

Venezuelan online news outlet Caracas Chronicles said the Bank of England had twice refused to repatriate the reserves due to “compliance-related reasons”.

The Bank of England said in a statement: “In all its operations, the Bank observes the highest standards of risk management and abides by all relevant legislation, including applicable financial sanctions.”

Until late last year there were around 14 tonnes, worth some $550 million, in the bank’s vaults, but a week ago Reuters said the figure had jumped to 31 tonnes after Venezuela closed out a gold swap deal with Deutsche Bank.

The South American nation experienced problems in extracting its own gold from the Bank of England in the past. Bankers in Britain were allegedly concerned that Venezuelan officials would sell the state-owned gold “for personal gain.”

The move was praised by the self-proclaimed ‘interim president’ of Venezuela.

“The process of protecting the assets of Venezuela has begun,” Juan Guaido tweeted. “We will not allow more abuse and theft of money intended for food, medicine and the future of our children.”

Earlier with week Mr Guaido, the speaker of the national parliament, declared himself the ‘interim president’ of Venezuela. He was recognized as the “legitimate” leader of the country by the US, Canada and the majority of South American nations.

Maduro was backed by states like Mexico, Russia, China, and Turkey. He slammed the US for endorsing Guaido, ordering its diplomats to leave the county.

Moscow said it will continue to recognize Maduro as the sole democratically-elected leader of the country and called on others to not allow “destructive foreign interference” in Venezuelan affairs.

Published: January 27, 2019