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Venezuela Halts Gold Sales as US, UK Target Caracas' Hard Assets - Report

Sputnik News

11:39 02.02.2019(updated 11:41 02.02.2019)

Friday saw reports about Venezuela's plans to sell 15 tonnes of its central bank gold to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in return for euros in cash; the alleged goal was to sell 29 tonnes in total to the UAE by February, so as to obtain liquidity for the import of basic products.

Caracas has scrapped a plan to ship 20 tonnes of Venezuelan gold out of the country, Bloomberg cited a source familiar with the matter as saying.

The source added that the gold bars, worth about $850 million, had allegedly been prepared for transportation at the Venezuelan Central Bank but that they will "not be sent out anytime soon".

Those who were handling the transaction were ostensibly angered by increasing international drive to "ring-fence" Venezuela's hard assets, according to the source.

The reported developments come after the United Arab Emirates (UAE)'s investment company Noor Capital claimed that it had bought three tonnes of gold from Venezuela's Central Bank following media reports about Caracas' plans to sell 15 tonnes of gold in order to back the country's troubled currency, the bolivar.

The firm argued that its relationship with Venezuela's Central Bank had been regulated by "clear commercial contracts" and that it does not engage in any illegal or prohibited transactions.

Earlier this week, Reuters reported, citing an unnamed senior official with knowledge of the plan, that Venezuela will sell 29 tonnes of its central bank gold to the UAE in order to provide liquidity for the import of basic products.

Last week, the Bank of England reportedly denied Venezuela's request to pull out its gold bars after US National Security Adviser John Bolton and US State Secretary Mike Pompeo announced sanctions against the country and froze the Maduro government's foreign assets.

Earlier in January, media reported that Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido had sent a letter to UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, asking them to prevent Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from pulling out any of gold held in the UK's central bank.

Venezuela has been mired in a political crisis, which escalated after Guaido declared himself the country's interim president in a move immediately supported by the United States.

President Maduro accused Guaido of being a "puppet" and slammed Washington for orchestrating a coup in Venezuela. Russia, China and several other countries said in turn that they recognize Maduro as the country's only legitimate head of state.


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