01:23 GMT21 September 2020
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    In February 2019, the Bank of England (BoE) froze some 31 tonnes, estimated at £200bn, of Venezuelan gold sequestered within its vaults, after the United Kingdom recognized the self-proclaimed ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido as the leader of the South American nation.

    Former UK Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt was “delighted” to cooperate with the administration of US President Donald Trump in pressuring Venezuela through freezing the nation's gold assets hosted by the Bank of England, according to former US National Security Advisor John Bolton in his White House memoir.

    Bolton, a former Trump administration appointee, revealed that the aim of the Washington-London cooperation on freezing Venezuela’s gold deposits was to hamstring the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro so that it would be unable “to keep itself going”.

    “UK Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt, in Washington for meetings, was delighted to cooperate on steps they could take, for example freezing Venezuelan gold deposits in the Bank of England, so the regime could not sell the gold to keep itself going.” Bolton writes. “These were the sorts of steps we were already applying to pressure Maduro financially.”

    Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza on Saturday tweeted a page from Bolton’s forthcoming book on US President Donald Trump, titled ‘The Room Where It Happened’, saying, “Evidence showing Venezuela is being illegally robbed keeps surfacing”.

    The Bank of England froze the gold in February 2019, following London’s recognition of self-proclaimed ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido, supported by the Trump administration and some other Western countries.

    In April, Caracas, already under heavy US economic sanctions, request that the BoE sell part of its gold reserves and transfer the cash, reportedly to fund the nation’s efforts to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

    Later, in mid-May, the Central Bank of Venezuela filed a legal dispute in a UK commercial court in a bid to oblige the BoE to transfer some £930mln ($1.13bln) of the gold assets, accusing the UK bank of “putting lives at risk” as Venezuela faces a “humanitarian emergency” due to the ongoing pandemic.

    The Trump administration, also with some Western allies, are conducting a pressure campaign to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and install opposition leader Juan Guaido.

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    Tags:
    gold, Venezuela, book, John Bolton, Donald Trump, US, United Kingdom, UK
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