Sun | Aug 9, 2020

British judge rejects Maduro’s bid to access $1 billion in gold

Published:Thursday | July 2, 2020 | 9:45 AM
In this March 12, 2020 file photo, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a press conference at the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix, File)

LONDON (AP) — A British judge on Thursday refused to give Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro control of over $1 billion in gold sitting in a Bank of England vault, ruling that it is unlawful to give it to the socialist leader since Britain does not recognise him as president of the Latin American nation.

Maduro has demanded the gold to help his cash-starved nation fight the coronavirus pandemic.

But the central bank for the United Kingdom, whose government recognises Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as his country’s legitimate leader, had refused to hand it over to Maduro’s socialist administration.

The ruling clarifies the question of who is Venezuela’s legitimate leader — at least in the eyes of one world power.

Guaidó has sought to preserve the gold stash at the Bank of England to keep it out of the hands of the Maduro government, which it contends is illegitimate and corrupt.

His lawyers reiterated during a recent four-day hearing their stance that the National Assembly leader became Venezuela’s rightful leader under provisions of the country’s constitution.

The dispute hinged on the British stance toward Venezuela, a country in economic and political crisis where both Maduro and Guaidó have been claiming presidential powers for more than a year.

Venezuela’s Central Bank sought to release the gold, which it says now that it wants to sell for food and medical equipment that is desperately needed to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

But it had also sought the gold before the pandemic began.

A lawyer representing Maduro’s side promised to appeal. 

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