The British Supreme Court announced, on Monday, that it will refer to the commercial judiciary the case regarding the tons of Venezuelan gold kept in the Bank of England, whose control is quarrels between dictator Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido.
After ruling that the British courts cannot conflict with the executive, who considers Guaido interim president, “it remains to be seen whether the judgments of the Supreme Court of Venezuela can be recognized here. The case is referred to the Commercial Court.”The Supreme Court said in a statement.
In this way, the Supreme Court partially accepted the opposition leader’s appeal, stating that the previous statement of the British government “was a clear and unequivocal recognition of Mr. Guaido as President of Venezuela”.
The Bank of England, which houses its coffers More than 1 billion dollars in gold bullion from Venezuela’s reservesHe refused to release the deposits after the British government joined dozens of other countries in early 2019 in supporting Guaido on the grounds that Maduro’s victory in the previous year’s presidential election was fraudulent.
The two parties appointed management committees at the Venezuelan central bank that “have given differing instructions on the country’s international reserves,” according to Britain’s Supreme Court.
The BCV appointed by Maduro wants to recover the tons of gold deposited in the British bank, but at the moment, he cannot access because London recognizes Juan Guaido as interim president.
In 2020, Venezuela’s central bank appealed to the British courts, which initially ruled in Guaido’s favour, before an appeals court overturned the ruling. Then the opposition decided to take the case to the Supreme Court.
After three days of hearings in July, the court ruled on Monday to leave the question open.
Maduro’s lawyers argue that the UK effectively recognizes his presidency, particularly through diplomatic relations. According to them, the sale of the precious metal to the government could, among other things, help finance the fight against COVID-19.
Instead, Guaido’s government asserted that the money would either repress the people or fill the pockets of “corrupt rule”.
To prove its goodwill, in light of allegations of embezzlement made by Guaidó’s team, BCV in April proposed transferring the gold directly to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The agency said it was willing to consider the matter on conditions.
The situation is ambiguous: like the United States, London does not recognize the legitimacy of the new parliament and reiterates its support for Juan Guaido, who has no authority in the country. But at the same time, the United Kingdom maintains an embassy in Caracas., despite the decline in diplomatic relations.
Indeed, in October 2020, the Court of Appeal took these arguments into account and ruled that the political statement did not amount to a government decision.
According to the court, Boris Johnson’s CEO could “de facto” recognize the power of Maduro, whose administration continues to maintain diplomatic relations.
If British justice finally rules in favor of the BCV leadership appointed by Juan Guaido, it will set a precedent that the opposition, which suffered a crushing defeat in regional elections in November, will hope to use to recover Venezuelan assets deposited in other European banks.
In the United States, management of the country’s oil-rich assets has been delegated to Guaido.
(With information from AFP)