UK would ‘finance torture’ by giving gold to Venezuela, warns Guaidó

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Cash-strapped Maduro regime tries to seize $1bn in bullion from Bank of England

Michael Stott in London and Gideon Long in Bogotá

The Bank of England would effectively be “financing torture” if President Nicolás Maduro were to win a British court case ordering it to hand $1bn of Venezuelan gold in its vaults to his regime, opposition leader Juan Guaidó has warned.

Speaking to the Financial Times after the High Court in London recently heard arguments in the lawsuit, Mr Guaidó said it was “very important for us to protect that gold and keep it out of the clutches of the Maduro dictatorship. [They are] not trying to get hold of it to deal with the humanitarian emergency. They’re trying to get it so they can steal it.”

The legal battle comes as Venezuela grapples with widespread shortages of food, water and fuel as well as coronavirus and choking US sanctions. The country has been in economic freefall for years but residents in Caracas say this is the worst crisis they have ever experienced.