Fearing sanctions, Venezuela seeks to repatriate $550 mln of gold from Britain

Marco Green
November 7, 2018

The Trump administration on Thursday issued a new round of sanctions banning US citizens from having dealings with anyone involved in "corrupt or deceptive" gold sales from Venezuela, as part of efforts to boost pressure on Maduro. Reuters soucres were unclear, knowing only that the Bank Of England was seeking to clarify what Venezuela wanted with the approximately 15 tons of gold being held in the bank's vaults.

Maduro answered Bolton's comments during a televised speech, saying Venezuela is now certifying 32 gold fields.

The plan has been held up for almost two months due to difficulty in obtaining insurance for the shipment, needed to move a large gold cargo, one of the officials said. The Bank of England declined to comment.

"They are still trying to find insurance coverage, because the costs are high", the source told the agency.

The South American country is now dealing with one of the worst economic crises in history, going through a fifth year of recession and an annual inflation of more than 400,000 percent. The total value of its gold reserves is about $14 billion at today's prices.

The deepening economic crisis in Venezuela means its government wants to get back its gold reserves worth around R8 billion.

Maduro, along with his economic team, announced that Venezuela is installing 54 gold processing plants with new technology to reportedly avoid the polluting use of mercury. Their nearly $700M worth of gold now sitting with the Bank Of England.

While it might seem unusual for one country's gold to be held elsewhere, apparently it's quite common for governments from "emerging-market" countries to store their gold in the banks of countries with a more developed economy.

Venezuela has been exporting gold to Turkey in the a year ago, a business that has grown as Maduro has built up ties with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

Since 2014, Venezuela has been using its gold as collateral to get billions in loans from global lenders. According to the latest data from the country's central bank, gold holdings have dropped to 160 tons in June from 364 tons in 2014.

Caracas has been looking to wean itself off of the US-dominated financial institutions and instruments, ditch the dollar and turn to euros and the yuan for worldwide settlements month amid multilayered United States sanctions Venezuelan officials have described as "illegal". Articles appear on euronews.com for a limited time.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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