The decision is a victory for Guaido, who won a series of legal battles for the gold medal after being recognized by the British government, rather than Maduro, as the legitimate Venezuelan leader.
The judge in the case said: “I have concluded (…) that the Council of Guaidó is successful: it is unlikely that the judgments of the TSJ (Supreme Court of Justice) will be recognized”.
Maduro and Guaido have appointed different boards of directors of the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV), and the two have issued conflicting instructions on managing gold reserves.
Lawyers for the Maduro-backed PCV board said the central bank was considering appealing Friday’s ruling.
Maduro’s legal team said he wants to sell part of 31 tons of gold to fund the coronavirus emergency and bolster a health system wrecked by years of economic crisis.
The opposition has claimed that Maduro’s government wants to use the money for the benefit of its foreign allies, which its lawyers deny.
“This decision represents another step in the process of protecting and preserving Venezuela’s international gold reserves for the Venezuelan people,” Guaido’s team said in a statement. “This kind of fair and transparent judicial process does not exist in Venezuela.” In early 2019, the British government joined dozens of countries in supporting Guaido and questioning Maduro, whom it accused of rigging the 2018 elections.
Guaido at the time asked the Bank of England to prevent the Maduro government from accessing gold. The Maduro-appointed central bank board has sued the Bank of England to regain control of bullion.
Since 2021, support for Guaido inside and outside the country has waned, while Maduro has remained in power with the support of the military and allied countries such as Iran, Russia, China and Cuba.
Legal experts said the latest case is unprecedented as it witnessed one country’s highest court interpreting another country’s constitution.
“This is an unfortunate ruling,” said Sarosh Ziwala of Zaiwalla & Co, a law firm representing the Maduro-appointed issuer’s board of directors, adding that he would pursue the case despite Friday’s decision.
“The BCV remains concerned that the cumulative effect of English court decisions appears to be consistent with a simple statement by the UK government recognizing as head of state a person without effective control or authority over any part of that country,” he added.