Following Britain’s Supreme Court’s unequivocal recognition of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as President of Venezuela on Monday evening, he is one step closer to gaining control of more than $1 billion in gold reserves held by the Bank of England.
The Supreme Court overturned an earlier decision by the Court of Appeal, ruling that the British government, which had recognised Guaidó as Venezuela’s Constitutional interim President, was solely responsible for the recognition of heads of state and government.
The decision comes after a long battle over the gold between Nicolas Maduro, who claimed a second term as President of Venezuela after a widely disputed presidential election in 2018, and Guaidó, who was then the head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly and has led the fight to depose Maduro since then.
The London court said it was “bound by the one voice principle to accept the statements of the executive which establish that Mr. Guaidó is recognised by His Majesty’s Government as the constitutional interim President of Venezuela and that Mr. Maduro is not recognised by HMG as President of Venezuela for any purpose.”
The matter was remanded to the Commercial Court for further review by the Supreme Court. However, it stated that their decision should not conflict with the United Kingdom’s recognition of Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president.
In February 2019, the United Kingdom recognised Guaidó as Venezuela’s president, saying, “It is time for a new start, with free and fair elections in conformity with international democratic standards.”
Guaidó praised the Supreme Court’s decision on Monday, saying it gives him the authority to protect Venezuela’s gold stockpiles from Maduro’s tyranny.
“With this decision by the United Kingdom Supreme Court, I inform Venezuelans that the gold of the international reserves will continue to be protected at the Bank of England,” he tweeted on Monday. “The dictatorship will not be able to steal it as it has done with public funds, generating the current humanitarian emergency.”
The decision came after a long and tortuous legal battle that saw the case go through multiple courts and result in a variety of outcomes.
It started when Venezuela’s central bank, which is controlled by Maduro’s administration, sued the Bank of England for access to €930 million in gold reserves, which it claimed would help the country cope with the coronavirus pandemic. According to court documents, Venezuela intended to sell the gold to fund the UN Development Programme’s purchase of medical supplies and food.