- The Maduro government has claimed the gold on several occasions.
- Judge Nigel Teare, of the British High Court, recognized in July that Guaidó is “unequivocally” the “constitutional interim president.”
- The London-based bank is one of the largest providers of the gold custody services in the world.
A British appeals court on Monday overturned an earlier lower court ruling, which had granted Venezuela’s self-declared President, Juan Guaidó, access to the more than 30 tons of Venezuelan gold that are deposited in the Bank of England. The ruling thus presents a new twist in the conflict.
As per the ruling, there was need to determine whether:
“(1) the UK government recognises Mr Guaidó as the Venezuelan President for all purposes and as such doesn’t recognise Mr Maduro as President for any purpose.
“Or (2) HMG [the UK government] is in full recognition of Mr. Guaidó as the de facto President of Venezuela and thus entitled to exercise all the powers and duties pertaining to the Presidency but also recognizes Mr Maduro as the person who does in fact exercise some or all of the powers of the President of Venezuela.”
The Maduro government has claimed the gold on several occasions. The appeals court also ordered an investigation to determine which of the two leaders has legitimacy over the funds.
Earlier Ruling Favored Mr. Guaidó
Judge Nigel Teare, of the British High Court, recognized in July that Guaidó is “unequivocally” the “constitutional interim president,” and that it is the board of the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) appointed by him that has authority over the more than $1 billion worth of Venezuelan gold currently in British custody.
“Her Majesty’s government does recognize Guaidó in the capacity of the constitutional interim president of Venezuela and, it must follow, does not recognize Maduro as the constitutional interim president of Venezuela,” the judge wrote in his judgement at the time.
The law firm representing the BCV then announced that it would appeal the judge’s ruling, because as they stated during the trial, they consider that, despite the UK recognizing Guaidó, all communication between the two countries refers to Maduro as president, which would confirm the legitimacy of his government.
At the beginning of May, Venezuela asked the Bank of England to release the said gold reserves in order for it to use the money to fight the coronavirus pandemic and, two weeks later, the Venezuelan ambassador to the UN, Samuel Moncada, reported that they filed a lawsuit against the English bank in a London court.
On his part, however, Guaidó considered that removing the assets from London, something that the Maduro administration had demanded for up to three times, it would mean an “illegitimate transaction.” The Bank of England then found itself “in the middle of the parties” in dispute.
The London-based bank is one of the largest providers of the gold custody services in the world.
The oil crisis and the sanctions imposed by the United States have grossly affected Venezuela’s economy, hence pushing the Maduro administration to the wall, forcing it to push for the recovery of the nation’s assets.