Maduro blocked from withdrawing $1.7b in gold

ALBA

(NEWS.AU) – Nicolas Maduro’s regime has been blocked from ripping $US1.2 billion ($A1.7 billion) worth of gold out of the Bank of England.

According to Bloomberg, which cites unnamed people familiar with the matter, officials for the embattled Venezuelan leader made a last-ditch attempt to withdraw the massive sum — a significant part of the country’s $US8 billion ($A11.2 billion) in foreign reserves held by the central bank.

The Bank of England declined to comment on how it handles Venezuelan assets, saying it “provides banking services — including gold custody services — to a large number of customers” and “does not comment on any of those relationships”.

“In all its operations, the Bank observes the highest standards of risk management and abides by all relevant legislation, including applicable financial sanctions,” it said in a statement.

It comes after the UK and several other European countries joined the US and a number of other countries in saying it would recognise opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has claimed the presidency.

Speaking before his meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence and US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said it was “clear that Nicolas Maduro is not the legitimate leader of Venezuela”.

Last week, US President Donald Trump made the extraordinary step of recognising Mr Guaido as the interim president in Venezuela, taking to Twitter to declare his support.