The Times has recently reported, citing anonymous sources, that the Bank of England is refusing to release Venezuela's gold bars, worth about $550 million or £420 million, back to Caracas. Explaining the move, the British officials cited "standard" anti-money laundering measures.
Sputnik discussed the Western stance towards the Maduro government, as well as the Bank of England's reported refusal to return Venezuela's gold with Jorge Martin, a campaigner at Hands Off Venezuela.
Sputnik: According to the Times, the Bank of England is refusing to hand over 420 million pounds worth of Venezuelan gold to the Venezuelan government for fear of it being stolen by President Maduro. What are your thoughts on this story?
Jorge Martin: Well, I'd say this is a very scandalous situation because this gold doesn't belong to the Bank of England or the British government — it belongs to Venezuela. So this is nothing short of buccaneering. They are basically withholding something which is not theirs.
It is the usual situation for countries across the world to deposit their gold reserves in places that are supposed to be safe — but it's there just as a deposit for safe-keeping — it's not for this country's government to take a decision about the future use of this money. And it actually vindicates the decision taken by President Chavez a few years ago when he repatriated the bulk of Venezuela's gold reserves which were being held in Switzerland — and this is just a leftover amount. Obviously, the reason why Maduro wants to repatriate the gold reserves at this moment is to protect himself and his country against sanctions which are being promoted by the United States.
Sputnik: I asked him, given the opposing Western stance towards the Maduro government, if there could be political motivations behind the withholding of the gold?
Jorge Martin: We don't really know all the details as we are just going on unnamed sources in The Times, but The Times is a serious newspaper — it's the representative, the mouthpiece of the ruling class in Britain and they wouldn't be publishing something if there wasn't some substance to it.
And I think it is quite clear that the United States was also involved. Just a few days ago in the run-up to the mid-term elections, Trump announced new sanctions on Venezuela which were targeting gold specifically — in this case, it wasn't gold reserves, it was gold which was being mined in the south of Venezuela. And the sanctions affect anyone trading or anyone having anything to do with trading Venezuelan gold in the world market. So it's only a fair assumption to think that this decision of the Bank of England to withhold Venezuelan gold reserves is related to these sanctions, and the United States has had a part in telling the British government what to do about this.
Sputnik: Do you think we could see other European nations follow the US and UK's lead?
Jorge Martin: Yes, there is already a big campaign in the EU for more sanctions against Venezuela. The campaign was led in the past by the right-wing government in Spain. The Spanish government has now changed but even in the last few days, the EU has released more statements related to the so-called humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and how sanctions are needed and so on. So yes, other European governments are likely to take similar measures in terms of sanctions, although as far as I know, Venezuela does not have gold stashed in any other remaining country.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Venezuelanalysis editorial staff.