Venezuela managed to sell around $40 million worth of gold on 12 July, Bloomberg reported, despite US efforts to stop the sale of the precious metal by Nicolas Maduro's government; the metal has served as a financial lifeline for the beleaguered nation, which is under intensive pressure from sanctions imposed by Washington. According to the media outlet, the Venezuelan Central Bank still has $8.1 billion in gold reserves, approaching a 30-year low.
Notably, the country lost 20 tons of gold at the beginning of June 2019 after it failed to make interest payments on a loan from Deutsche Bank in time. The gold served as collateral in a $750 million loan agreement that Caracas struck with the bank in 2016, before the economic crisis erupted in Venezuela, and which was due to expire in 2021.
My advice to bankers, brokers, traders, facilitators, and other businesses: don’t deal in gold, oil, or other Venezuelan commodities being stolen from the Venezuelan people by the Maduro mafia. We stand ready to continue to take action.— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) January 30, 2019
Washington has long sought to limit Venezuela's ability to sell its gold reserves, with varying levels of success. The Bank of England previously rejected Caracas' request to transfer some of its gold reserves in 2019, allegedly following pressure from US authorities. The White House’s attempts to stop the sale of Venezuela's gold is part of its efforts to pressure the country's elected President Nicolas Maduro to resign - by suffocating the country's economy with sanctions.
At the same time, the US has been actively supporting self-proclaimed interim President Juan Guaido, who has been trying to oust Maduro since January 2019. Washington has transferred control over some foreign-based Venezuelan assets to Guaido's allies and tried to reroute some of the country's income from oil sales to the opposition leader.