News ID: 269316
Published: 0835 GMT May 20, 2020

Venezuela files claim to force BoE to hand over gold

Venezuela files claim to force BoE to hand over gold

Venezuela's central bank has made a legal claim to try to force the Bank of England (BoE) to hand over €930 million ($1.02 billion) of gold so President Nicolas Maduro's government can fund its coronavirus response, according to the document submitted in a London court.


The claim follows a request Venezuela made to the BoE in April to sell part of its gold reserves there and send the proceeds to the United Nations to help with the country's coronavirus-fighting efforts, Reuters reported.

The BoE declined to comment on the claim. The Venezuelan central bank did not respond to a request to comment.

Since 2018, the BoE has delayed the transfer of 31 tons of Venezuelan gold stored there to Maduro, The bank offers gold custodian services to many developing nations.

The claim, submitted in a commercial court and dated May 14, says the Venezuelan central bank "seeks an order requiring BoE to comply with the proposed instruction."

The funds, once transferred to the United Nations Development Programme, would be used to buy healthcare equipment, medicine, and food to address Venezuela's "COVID-19 emergency," the document seen by Reuters said.

Selling off the country's gold reserves has become one of the Maduro administration's few options to raise funds due to US sanctions. The collapse in global oil prices and a paralyzing coronavirus quarantine has further crippled Venezuela's economy.

"The foot-dragging by the BoE is critically hampering Venezuela and the UN's efforts to combat COVID-19 in the country," Sarosh Zaiwalla, a London-based lawyer representing the central bank, said in a statement.

Venezuela so far has registered 618 coronavirus cases and 10 deaths, but health workers warn the country's decrepit medical system could be overrun if the outbreak expands there.


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