A British judge has given Venezuela the permission to appeal a judgement denying the Venezuelan Government access to Gold held in the Bank of England. The judgement was made on the basis that the UK Government recognises coup figurehead Juan Guaido, but lawyers representing the elected Government in Venezuela are seeking to appeal on the basis that the funds could be used for a military insurrection.
The news was reported by investigative journalist John McEvoy on twitter, the full thread of which is published below.
New: With Venezuela’s gold still frozen in the Bank of England, the UK courts have granted the “Maduro Board” permission to appeal a July judgment which ruled in favour of the “Guaidó Board”.
Justice Cockerill, the judge overseeing the case, noted that the legal issues at stake here are “effectively unprecedented”.
She thus allowed the “Maduro Board” to appeal her own decision – a rare judgment.
The “Maduro Board” argued in court that, if the “Guaidó Board” was allowed to give instructions to the Bank of England regarding Venezuelan assets, these assets could then be transferred to the personal accounts of Guaidó and his associates.
The “Maduro Board” further argued that Venezuelan assets held in the UK could be used to fund an armed insurrection in Venezuela.
This would put the UK in a dangerous, embarrassing, and virtually unprecedented position.
Specifically, the “Maduro Board” referred to a book published by former US Secretary of Defence Mark T. Esper, in which he described discussions with Guaidó about a “special operation targeted directly at Maduro”.
The key legal issues in this case are: Does the UK recognise Juan Guaidó (yes), can the UK courts recognise the judgments of the Venezuelan Supreme Tribunal of Justice (appealed), and can the UK thus grant the “Guaidó Board” full access to the gold (not yet).
While the UK courts are assessing technical matters of law, this is a political case, as it rests on the UK’s recognition of Guaidó as Venezuelan president in 2019.
The UK’s decision to recognise Guaidó, and to freeze Venezuela’s gold, was made under US pressure.
The US is now (gradually) normalising relations with Venezuela, in light of the international oil context.
It remains possible that the UK will hand over Venezuelan state assets to Guaidó, even while the US government distances itself from him.
This is a farcical situation that the UK finds itself in.
Moreover, the Bank of England can no longer be seen as a safe place to store foreign assets.
If diplomatic relations sour with the UK, governments will worry that their assets could be frozen or, worse still, transferred to political opponents.
There is not yet a date for the appeal, but I will update update this thread when there is.
It’s an incredibly important issue – a matter of modern-day piracy – which the UK press has either downplayed or ignored.