By Benjamin Flowers: The United Kingdom (UK) Supreme Court has ruled that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro cannot access US$1.95 billion worth of his country’s gold that is being stored in the Bank of England (BoE), the BBC reports.
The case is the latest in a legal battle between President Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who declared himself president back in January of 2019. Both Maduro and Guaidó had set up Central Bank Committees and given those committees instructions on how the gold was to be used. Maduro took the matter to court in the UK and lost in the first instance, but in July 2020 the Court of Appeal ruled in his favor.
In today’s ruling, the Supreme Court described the Court of Appeal judgment as “misplaced”, noting that all British courts must accept that Maduro was not recognised as president “for any purpose”. The ruling shifts control of the gold back to Guaidó, who reportedly intends to keep the gold in the BoE.
Maduro says that the gold will be used to purchase food and medical supplies which his country desperately needs in the face of the pandemic, social unrest and reported food shortages, which he is repeatedly accused of being the cause of due to mismanagement. But his critics say that he intends to use the money to pay off countries who remain allies to Venezuela despite the sanctions in place by the European Union, Canada, Switzerland, Panama and Mexico, which have been in place since 2014 over allegations of corruption, human rights violations and the suppression of democracy.
In May 2018, Maduro was re-elected to a six-year term; however, the election was extremely controversial with many opposition parties boycotting it. The UK, United States, and a reported 50-plus countries have acknowledged Guaidó as the leader of Venezuela.