Italy to Strengthen Control Over Gold Reserves Amid Venezuela's Problems With UK

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Soon after the incident involving the Bank of England withholding Venezuelan gold reserves, an Italian lawmaker suggested clearly defining the state's ownership over its gold reserves in a new law. His move was supported by Italian representative in the EU parliament Marco Zanni, whom Sputnik Italia has asked to comment on the proposed law.

Marco Zanni, an EU lawmaker from the Lega party, told Sputnik that the law, recently proposed by member of Italian Chamber of Deputies Claudio Borghi is aimed at defining the ownership status of gold reserves kept in the Bank of Italy. The latter currently holds 2,400 tonnes of the precious metal, which is roughly equals to 90-100 billion euros, in Italian reserves.

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Zanni points out that Italy and its citizens must secure their ownership over reserves that are kept in de-facto private banks. The EU lawmaker also added that he had called for the European Central Bank to confirm that member states' gold reserves are only stored in its system, and not owned by the ECB or any other bank.

The European parliamentarian stressed that no law defines the rights of an entity holding Italian gold reserves right now. Zanni indicated that most of the Italian precious metal is kept in the US and in the Bank of England. The Bank of Italy only annually receives a certificate from these banks, confirming that the gold remains intact. The lawmaker points out that Italy "doesn't even have the capability of sending an inspection team" that could verify if the gold is indeed still there.

READ MORE: Maduro Warns Against 'Robbing Venezuela of Gold' Amid Bank of England Dispute

Zanni believes that such practices must be changed and the state must obtain direct control over its gold reserves, especially considering the recent problems that Venezuela encountered when trying to repatriate its gold reserves from the UK.

"We have Venezuela as an example, which requested to repatriate a small part of its gold reserves and is now facing difficulties because the state that holds them [the UK]  is coming up with various pretexts to avoid returning that gold", he said.

London has distanced itself from the Bank of England's decision to refuse Venezuela's request to repatriate its gold, noting that the bank is an independent body. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro expressed hope in an interview with the BBC that the UK is not robbing his country "of the gold that legally belongs to the central bank of Venezuela".

READ MORE: Venezuelan Oil Giant PDVSA to Redirect Exports to Customers in Europe and Asia

The freezing of the Venezuelan gold took place amid US efforts to block Maduro's access to the country's foreign assets, including money and a foreign subsidiary of the Venezuelan state oil producer PDVSA — CITGO.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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