Allies of Juan Guaido, who proclaimed himself an interim president of Venezuela and challenged the country’s incumbent Head of State Nicolas Maduro to leave the post, is asking Citibank (which is a part of the US-based investment giant Citigroup) to put the gold swap with Maduro’s government on hold, Reuters reports. The financial giant is entitled to claim the assets put as collateral for the loan taken by Venezuela if Caracas fails to make the payment on time. The deadline is in March.
“Citibank has been asked to stand by and not invoke the guarantee until the end of the usurpation “We don’t want to lose the gold”, lawmaker Angel Alvarado told Reuters.
He did not specify the exact value of the gold guarantee, but the media outlet reports that it is worth $1.1 billion, citing an unnamed source in the finance industry. Both Citigroup and Citibank have remained tight-lipped on the matter.
In late January, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido reportedly asked UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney not to return gold bullion to President Nicolas Maduro's government. This followed Bloomberg's report that the Bank of England had refused to withdraw Venezuela's gold reserves, worth $1.2 billion, at President Nicolas Maduro's request.
The long-running crisis in Venezuela escalated on 23 January, when Juan Guaido, head of Venezuela's disempowered National Assembly, proclaimed himself the interim president pending fresh elections. Both the US and the UK, along with some 40 other countries, recognized the politician as the legitimate leader. Maduro, who was re-elected president in 2018, called him a US "puppet" and accused Washington, which has stated that it has “all options on the table” with regard to a response to the Venezuelan crisis, of organising a coup in the Latin American country. Russia, China, Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Turkey, Iran, and others have reaffirmed their support for President Nicolas Maduro and urged outside powers not to interfere in Venezuela's internal affairs.