- The bone of contention was the decision on who has the right to manage the reserves of 31 tons of bullion gold.
- Guaidó has the support of almost 60 countries worldwide, including the United States and the United Kingdom.
- Maduro has the support of Russia and China, and still controls the police and military.
A court in Britain today ruled that it is opposition leader Juan Guaidó, and not President Nicolás Maduro, who has authority over Venezuela’s gold reserves deposited at the Bank of England. The London Commercial Court ruled that the government had “unequivocally recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as president,” rather than Maduro.
The ruling issued today recognizes the decision-making power of the interim administration of the Bank of Venezuela, appointed by Guaidó. Judge Nigel Teare concluded it is the administrators appointed by him to the Central Bank of Venezuela who have authority over the reserves.
The bone of contention was the decision on whether it was the administration of the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV), chaired by Calixto Ortega, appointed by Maduro, or the interim council, appointed by Guaidó, who has the right to manage the reserves of 31 tons of bullion gold. The gold, deposited in the Bank of England (BoE), is worth about €1.3 billion.
Nicolás Maduro been in power since 2013, but the leader of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó , proclaimed himself interim President of the Republic in January 2019. Thus, Guaidó declared that he assumed the executive powers of Maduro, owing to the controversial manner in which Maduro attained a second term in office in an election boycotted by Venezuela’s opposition.
His re-election was rejected by the Venezuelan opposition-controlled National Assembly, which labelled him a “usurper,” and went ahead to declare the presidency as being vacant. The source of Guaidó’s legitimacy are articles in the Venezuelan constitution which, in such cases, allow the leader of the country’s National Assembly to step in as acting president.
President Maduro, however, still controls the nation’s police and military. To date, he has remained in the presidential palace and maintains de facto control over the country. Guaidó has the support of almost 60 countries worldwide, including the United States and the United Kingdom. Maduro on the other hand has the support of Russia and China, amongst others.
Since the recognition of Guaidó as interim president by the British Government, in February 2019, the Bank of England refused to return part of the gold reserves to Caracas that the South American country has in its name. In July 2019, the National Assembly appointed a temporary administration for BCV, but the decision was declared null and void by the Venezuelan Supreme Court.
The Maduro regime has made several requests to recover the gold, but Guaidó wrote twice to the BoE to reject those requests. Maduro argued that the gold would be used for corrupt purposes within the cash-strapped country.
In the face of refusals, the Central Bank of Venezuela eventually took the Bank of England to court, arguing that it needs these funds to use in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.