Maduro Gets Closer to Venezuela’s Gold in the UK

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s chances to get hold of US$1.95 billion in gold stored in the Bank of England rose on Monday when a U.K. appeals court overturned a previous High Court ruling that stated the U.K. had recognized Maduro’s rival as the country’s president.

Maduro and GuaidóNicolás Maduro and Juan Guaidó fighting for Venezuelan gold stored in the Bank of England. (Photo: ZiaLater; Kingsif, public domain)“The preliminary issues reflect the widely publicised dispute as to who is the President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro Moros or Juan Gerardo Guaidó Márquez,” read the judgement.

The Court of Appeal said that Maduro claimed “to be the President of Venezuela on the ground that he won the 2018 presidential election.”

On the other hand, Guaidó claimed “to be the Interim President of Venezuela on the ground that the 2018 presidential election was flawed, that on that account there was no President and that, under the Venezuelan Constitution, the President of the National Assembly, Guaidó, became the Interim President of Venezuela, pending fresh presidential elections,” it said.

The High Court based its July ruling to keep the gold in the Bank of England on a statement made earlier this year by British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt who said that the U.K. recognizes Juan Guaidó as the constitutional interim president until credible presidential elections can be held.

In the Court of Appeal judgement, however, judge Stephen Males said that the Foreign Secretary’s statement on whom the U.K. recognizes as Venezuelan president and whom not, was to his mind “ambiguous, or at any rate less than unequivocal.”

The Venezuelan gold got stuck in the Bank of England after the U.S. and the U.K. introduced sanctions against Maduro's regime. The legal battle started earlier this year when the Bank of England found itself caught between Maduro and his political rival Guaidó, both declaring themselves Venezuela's president.

While Maduro’s regime asked the Bank of England to offer part of the Venezuelan gold for sale, explaining that the funds collected would be used for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in Venezuela, Guaidó asked the same bank “not to hand the gold over to the Maduro government, arguing that it would be used for corrupt purposes,” the BBC reported.

The Bank of England then asked the High Court to decide whom the British government recognizes as president of Venezuela, and whom the gold should be handed over to.

The latest judgement did not put an end to the battle as the “case will now go back to the High Court, which will have to determine more clearly who is in charge in Venezuela,” the BBC said.