The UK Supreme Court hearing on the case of Venezuela’s gold reserves at the Bank of England will take place between Monday 19 July and Wednesday 21 July. The public will hear the calls of the Venezuelan Central Bank, led by the regime of Nicolás Maduro, and a group representing interim president, Juan Guaido, to gain access to the gold reserves that Venezuela holds in London.
The sessions will be attended by UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. The case dates back to May 2020, when the Central Bank of Venezuela sued the Bank of England for refusing to access its gold reserves. Then the English establishment made it clear that it recognized Juan Guaido as the highest president of the Latin American country, which he refused to respond to an institution that was under the control of Nicolás Maduro.
In July last year, a ruling by the English Supreme Court decided as a matter of priority that then-Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s declaration recognizing Juan Guaido as the “Provisional Constitutional President of Venezuela” was clear and binding on the Court. Under the principle of “one vote”. However, in October the Court of Appeal dismissed and accepted the appeal of the Central Bank of Venezuela, ordering that the case be returned to the Supreme Court.
The Court of Appeal concluded that in the absence of a clear indication from the UK government it would recognize Guaidó not only as head of state by law Venezuela, but also as head of state de facto, the English court will have to make a detailed factual analysis. Consequently, the Secretary of State was invited to intervene in the process, and permission was given to the legal representatives of the State Department to present allegations on the case before the Supreme Court in the July hearing.
Reserves in the city are about 1.6 billion euros. The exporting Venezuelan institute had intended to sell up to 1,000 million of these reserves to provide humanitarian aid, resources and medicine to Venezuelan citizens in the context of the pandemic.
The law firm representing Venezuela’s central bank, Zaiwalla & Co, warned that international observers in this case might be surprised at the possibility that the UK’s recognition of Guaido and not Maduro “could strip a foreign country of assets deposited in London without any recourse to the English court”.
“The outcome of this case may affect the attractiveness of the City of London and the Bank of England as a safe haven for foreign sovereign assets,” the lawyers warned in a statement. In January 2021, Guaidó ceased his duties as Vice-President and Speaker of the National Assembly after failing to appear in the 2020 elections. He claimed that his alleged authority as interim president was a continuation of his previous role, which according to the Venezuelan establishment’s lawyers gives you a “questionable” constitutional position to continue in this litigation.