After Juan Guaido’s interim government was overthrown, the Bank of England’s custody of Venezuelan gold might become subject to regulatory uncertainty. Juan Guaido and Nicolas Maduro, the president in office at the time, have been at odds over the 31 tons of gold since Guaido established a parallel government in 2019.
Status of Venezuelan Gold in the Bank of England Uncertain
Following the dissolution of the country’s interim government, the status of the Venezuelan gold stash stored in the Bank of England’s vaults in London is unknown. The country’s two governments—one led by Nicolas Maduro and the other by Juan Guaido, the country’s interim president, who in 2019 incorporated a provisional government after questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election—disputed the 31 tons of gold (1.02 million troy ounces), valued at more than $1.85 billion.
Although British courts had ruled in Guaido’s favor in July, the dissolution of the government carried out during a session of the Legislative Assembly, which was elected back in 2015, raises questions about the potential future of this gold and other Venezuelan properties offshore. Some lawmakers have claimed that this could allow Maduro to legitimately claim these.
During the meeting, Deputy Freddy Guevara made a suggestion about this possibility. He declared:
The international community was not consulted in advance regarding the recognition of this reform. The protection of foreign assets is not guaranteed under this reform, they have made it abundantly clear to us abroad. How is a leap into the void even possible?
The dissolution of the interim government received 72 votes, 29 votes against it, and 8 abstentions.
The parallel Legislative Assembly established a Board of Directors and Asset Protection, which had the responsibility of organizing and protecting Venezuelan properties and businesses abroad, while the interim government was disbanded. The board, made up of five members, will have sufficient authority to handle these duties thanks to the legality of the assembly.
This new structure, though, is not mentioned in any of the 52 trials taking place around the globe where two governments are arguing over more than $40 billion. Deputy Juan Miguel Matheus disagreed with this notion, arguing that since these assets were in the possession of nations that support the “democratic struggle” that the Venezuelan people are currently engaged in, they were not in danger.
However, this drew harsh criticism from other deputies who claimed that the interim administration was the only guarantee of recovering these assets because of Guaido’s international recognition.