Venezuelan opponent Juan Guaidó used about $500,000 of Venezuelan public money, deposited in US banks, to pay legal fees for the lawsuit over Venezuela’s gold reserves at the Bank of England.
The legal dispute for 31 tons of Venezuelan gold deposited at the English financial institution has dragged on for over a year and Caracas continues to try to access the resources, estimated at US$ 2 billion. Guaidó also claims access to gold.
The case went to court because the company claims to recognize Guaidó as a legitimate authority. However, in October 2020, the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) won an appeal in the British Court of Appeal that forced the opponent to bear the costs of the process, a total of 400 thousand pounds sterling, approximately US$ 500 thousand.
Appointed by Guaidó himself as ambassador to the United Kingdom, Vanessa Neumann confirmed that the self-proclaimed president of Venezuela used Venezuelan public funds deposited in the US to pay for the process in England.
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As of early December 2020, payment had not been made, according to Vanessa Neumann, due to the Treasury Department’s slowness in issuing a license to release the funds in the US.
The information was reiterated in witness statements before British courts, they stated that legal representatives of Guaidó would have access to accounts on behalf of BCV in the Federal Reserve from New York, a total of $342 million — funds that the United States embezzled from another Venezuelan state account at Citibank in April 2020.
Payment of British lawyers’ fees was made on December 7, 2020. Upon verifying the origin of the deposits, the Venezuelan government’s legal team denounced the irregularities.
This would not be the first time that Guaidó has used Venezuela’s public money for personal expenses. According to investigations by the National Assembly, the former deputy requested a transfer of US$ 53 million to the Office of Control of Foreign Assets (OFAC, its acronym in English) to finance his shadow government.
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Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro proposed that the gold blocked in the United Kingdom be used in the fund to combat covid-19 in Venezuela, administered by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). The proposal was rejected by the opponent.
Meanwhile, the legal process is advancing in the English Supreme Court, which began hearing witnesses in July and is expected to give its final verdict later this year. The British chancellery reiterated that its recognition of Guaidó as a Venezuelan authority is “clear and ancient”, so he would have power over gold.
If the British justice is in favor of releasing the 31 tons of Venezuelan gold to Juan Guaidó, the decision could set a dangerous precedent for at least 30 nations that also keep part of their international reserves in the Bank of England.
According to a report by The Canary portal, in 2019 the British chancellery had already requested the release of 1.2 million pounds sterling from the Bank of England for Guaidó.
Edition: Thales Schmidt