- Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro won a UK court appeal that ruled the legal battle over $1 billion in gold reserves held by the Bank of England must be reconsidered.
- The UK’s second-highest court reversed a previous ruling that recognized Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president.
- In reality, the UK’s recognition of Venezuela’s de facto leader “is to my mind ambiguous, or at any rate less than unequivocal,” court justices led by Judge Stephen Males said on Monday.
- Earlier this year, Maduro had demanded the gold held in the vaults of the Bank of England to help his cash-starved nation battle the COVID-19 pandemic. But his administration was refused access.
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The Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro won a British court appeal on Monday that ruled the legal fight over $1 billion in gold reserves held by the Bank of England should be reexamined.
The English Court of Appeal reversed an earlier lower court’s decision of whom the UK recognised as Venezuela’s legitimate president.
Venezuela has found itself in a crippling political crisis ever since a hotly-contested presidential election in 2019.
The UK government’s earlier statements on recognition of opposition leader Juan Guaidó, whom the US and about a dozen other countries recognize as Venezuela’s president, was misinterpreted in terms of his effective control over the country, the ruling stated.
Britain’s recognition of the de facto leader “is to my mind ambiguous, or at any rate less than unequivocal,” court justices led by Judge Stephen Males said in a statement.
In July this year, the UK said it recognizes Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president citing a “one voice” doctrine. “The judiciary and the executive must speak with one voice” high court judge Nigel Teare said. “There cannot be two Presidents of Venezuela.”
In early 2018, Maduro approached the Bank of England to remove gold worth about $550 million — or 16.5 tons — from its vaults and return it to South America. Since that time, the value of an ounce of gold has risen by more than 40%.
It is common for governments in emerging-market economies to store gold with the central banks of more developed economies.
But Guaidó begged the UK not to allow access to the Venezuelan gold reserves held by the Bank of England by “the illegitimate and kleptocratic regime” of President Nicolas Maduro, as he sought to safeguard the holdings in the UK.
Again this year, Maduro demanded the gold to help his cash-starved nation battle the COVID-19 pandemic. But the central bank refused to hand it over.
The Bank of England declined to comment to Business Insider.