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UK refuses to return Venezuela's gold. Careful who you trust to custody your assets.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Nicolás Maduro's government wants access to the Venezuelan gold stored at the Bank of England

The UK High Court has ruled against Venezuela's government in a legal battle over access to $1bn (£820m) of gold stored in the Bank of England.

It said the UK had "unequivocally recognised opposition leader Juan Guaidó as president", rather than President Nicolás Maduro.

The ruling comes after the government launched legal action against the bank to try to force it to release the gold.

It is a severe blow to Mr Maduro's cash-strapped administration.

Lawyers for the Maduro-controlled Venezuelan Central Bank, which brought the case, said they would appeal against the judgement.

The gold is being retained by the Bank of England (BoE) following British and US sanctions on Mr Maduro's government.

Why was the High Court in London involved?

The BoE said it was caught in the middle of two rival claims for the gold, one from the government of Mr Maduro and one from Mr Maduro's rival, Juan Guaidó, who declared himself acting president of Venezuela last year.

Mr Maduro's government said it wanted the gold to fund its fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

But Mr Guaidó asked the Bank of England not to hand the gold over to the Maduro government, arguing that it would be used for corrupt purposes.

The Bank of England therefore asked the High Court to rule on whom the UK government recognises as Venezuelan president, Mr Maduro or Juan Guaidó.

Why is there a doubt about who is president?

Nicolás Maduro was re-elected to a second six-year term in May 2018 in highly controversial elections, which most opposition parties boycotted.

His re-election was not recognised by Venezu...

Continue on bbc.com
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