The executive told the court that recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaido as president is clear and long-term, and as such he is the person empowered to decide how to use the gold held by the Bank of England.
The statement came after a lower court said the UK’s recognition of Guaido as Venezuela’s leader was “vague”.
“The UK government has the right to decide who should be recognized as the legitimate head of a foreign country,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.
He added that he recognizes Juan Guaido as the president of Venezuela and is therefore the only recognized person with the authority to act on behalf of Venezuela as head of state.
Maduro requested access to gold reserves to help the country, which is currently experiencing a severe financial crisis, fight the Covid-19 pandemic, but the Bank of England refused to hand them over, citing London’s recognition of Guaido.
Guaido sought to keep the Bank of England’s $1,950 million gold reserves (about €1,650 million at the current exchange) in the Bank of England to keep them out of the hands of Maduro, whom he accuses of being illegitimate and corrupt.
The leader of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Guaido, has challenged Maduro’s claim to the presidency, arguing that the 2018 elections were fraudulent and invalid, and had the support of much of the international community, including the United Kingdom.
Guaido claims to be the country’s interim president under the provisions of the national constitution, which allow the head of the legislature to take power so that free elections can be held.
Countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom have recognized Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela, although China, Russia, and many others have not, and Maduro maintains effective power within Venezuela.
The battle for gold is taking place between two departments of the Central Bank of Venezuela, one appointed by Maduro and the other by Guaido.
Maduro’s lawyers argue that he is still president of Venezuela and that the United Kingdom recognized him by maintaining diplomatic relations with the current regime.
Lee Kristol, one of the lawyers representing the Maduro administration, has argued that the British government’s position threatens the attractiveness of the City of London and the Bank of England as a safe haven for foreign assets.
“In this case, international observers may be surprised that a unilateral declaration of political recognition by the UK government could deprive a foreign sovereign of assets deposited in London without recourse to the English court. It ignores the reality on the ground,” Zaiwalla & Co’s lawyer said.. .in a statement.
The case will continue to be considered until Wednesday, and a decision is expected several days later.
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