Venezuela Sues UK over Frozen Gold Reserves, Loses CITGO Appeal

Venezuela, already suffering under USA sanctions, says it wants to use the gold's value to tackle coronavirus.

"With lives on the line, now is not the time to attempt to score political points", Sarosh Zaiwalla, a London-based lawyer representing the central bank, said in a statement.

The legal wrangling comes amid fears about ability of Venezuela's aged healthcare system to handle a severe coronavirus outbreak.

Venezuela's central bank sued the Bank of England for access to $1 billion in gold reserves to combat the coronavirus. It has reported 618 coronavirus cases and 10 deaths, so far. The Venezuelan central bank did not respond to a request to comment.

The Bank of England is the second largest keeper of gold in the world, with approximately 400,000 gold bars - only the New York Federal Reserve has more.

Venezuela's central bank is trying to force the Bank of England to hand over $US1.02 billion [$1.5 billion] worth of gold so the country can pay for its coronavirus response.

Selling off gold reserves has become an economic lifeline for Mr Maduro's government, which is under strict worldwide sanctions.

"By holding on to Venezuela's gold reserves, the Bank of England is putting many thousands of lives at risk", Sarosh Zaiwalla, senior partner at Zaiwalla & Co, said in the statement, pointing to the recent collapse in oil prices and the effects of US economic sanctions for the country's vulnerable position.

The legal claim seeks a court order "requiring BoE to comply with the proposed instruction".

Maduro's leadership is not recognised by a number of nations, including the United Kingdom and US.

It badly needs hard currency and sees the gold stored in the vaults of the Bank of England as the solution.

Once it is sold by the Bank of England (BoE), the funds are transferred to the United Nations Development Programme.



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