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Diplomat slams UK banks for illegally locking out billions that belong to Venezuela, Libya

Christian Fernsby |
Assets worth billions of dollars that belong to Venezuela and Libya continue to be illegally held in British banks, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova wrote in her Telegram channel on Monday.

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The diplomat drew attention to the recent news that lawyers representing Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido were going to contend the ownership of Venezuela’s gold worth almost one billion dollars that is currently kept in a London bank. At the same time, Zakharova noted that London had issued another statement not so long ago recognizing Guaido as "the only president of Venezuela".

"If we were talking about a detective series, then this ‘coincidence’ would be described as ‘premeditated actions of certain persons conspiring for their personal gain," she pointed out. "It is clear that we are talking about big money, in the equivalent of gold no less."

The diplomat stressed that the true side in court was represented by the Venezuelan Central Bank, who sought to get the gold returned (amounting to about 15% of the country’s currency reserves) to fund the fight against COVID-19.

"But the British government does not care one bit that Caracas needs this money to counter the coronavirus [pandemic]. London needs it more," she lamented.

Zakharova pointed out that British banks had been also locking away assets that belong to the late Muammar Gaddafi and his family. "In line with the UNSC Resolution 1973 adopted on March 17, 2011, the assets that belonged to the Gaddafi family and his closest entourage kept in banks outside of Libya were frozen. Muammar Gaddafi was then killed, and it is still unclear, what happened to the accounts of <…> Libya’s former leader," she stressed.

"Media reports suggest that more than 12 billion pounds were frozen in the UK. These funds were initially supposed to be spent for the country’s post-conflict revival, but the money is still yet to make its way to ordinary Libyans."

According to the spokeswoman, London is considering partially unblocking these assets to give money to families, who were affected by terrorist attacks. "But it is all just words. The truth is that billions of dollars that belong to other people continue to remain in British banks illegally," she concluded.

The Bank of England is currently locking away 31 tonnes of Venezuelan gold bars. Caracas has repeatedly attempted to get some of the gold back but was stonewalled with refusals by the bank each time.

London’s High Court of Justice delivered a ruling on the case in July 2019, recognizing Juan Guaido as the head of the country and rejecting a plea by the Venezuelan government led by President Nicolas Maduro to gain access to these assets.

Later, the Court of Appeal of England and Wales overturned this decision, calling to clarify, whether the UK government recognizes the fact that Maduro de facto continues to serve as the country’s president even though London sees Guaido as the legitimate leader.


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