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Bank of England $1 Billion Gold Cache Not Maduro’s, Says Judge

·2 min read

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido is one step closer to getting his hands on more than $1 billion of gold stashed away in the Bank of England’s vaults after a London judge decided not to recognize a Venezuelan court decision that President Nicolas Maduro should have it.

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The long-running case has been heard by several UK courts since Maduro sued the bank for access to the bullion, claiming it was needed for a Covid-19 relief fund, according to court filings. Guaido, however, also claimed to be the man in charge of the bank, with his attorneys saying he needed the stash of gold to help future generations of Venezuelans.

Judges said in December 2021 that a lower court needed to decide whether a Venezuelan government-controlled court decision should also be taken into account in deciding who ultimately controls the gold.

“I conclude that there is no basis for the recognition of the judgments upon which the Maduro Board relies,” Judge Cockerill said in the Friday judgment. “The Guaido Board therefore succeeds.”

The ruling bolsters the British government’s decision to essentially recognize Guaido as the South American country’s leader. The UK’s then-foreign secretary Dominic Raab said ahead of the December hearing that his government had formally recognized Guaido as interim president in all respects since 2019, according to documents prepared for the case.

Guaido applauded the ruling in a statement Friday, writing that the decision is “another step in the process of protecting Venezuela’s international gold reserves and preserving them for the Venezuelan people.”

The Venezuelan government said it intends to appeal. “The Venezuelan state will continue to defend its interests, protecting and guaranteeing the rights of all Venezuelans,” said Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, speaking on state television.

A hearing, likely to be in October, will decide which issues remain in the litigation, according to Maduro’s legal team.

(Adds Guaido statement in sixth paragraph, Maduro’s plan to appeal in seventh)

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