The Bank of England has refused to comment on media reports that it turned down the Venezuelan government’s request to pull $1.2 billion worth of gold out of the bank, a BoE spokesperson told TASS on Monday.
"The Bank of England provides banking services - including gold custody services - to a large number of customers. The Bank does not comment on any of those relationships, which are subject to customer confidentiality," the spokesperson said.
"In all its operations, the Bank observes the highest standards of risk management and abides by all relevant legislation, including applicable financial sanctions," he added.
Last week, Bloomberg reported that the Bank of England denied the government of President Nicolas Maduro a request to withdraw $1.2 billion.
It said the decision came after demands by top US officials, including Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton to help block the regime’s access to its overseas assets.
Reports came later that Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido had also appealed to Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and UK Prime Minister Theresa May with a request not to return the gold. In his letter to the British authorities, he said the government of President Nicolas Maduro was planning to sell the gold and use the money for stepping up reprisals against the people of Venezuela.
Early in November 2018, The Times said the Venezuelan government was trying to pull the gold out of the Bank of England, which refused, demanding explanations as to how the leadership in Caracas was planning to manage the gold.
Upheaval rocks Venezuela
On January 23, Venezuelan parliament speaker and opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president at a rally in the country’s capital of Caracas. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in turn, blasted the move as a coup staged by Washington and said he was severing diplomatic ties with the US.
Shortly after, the countries of the Lima Group (excluding Mexico), the Organization of American States, Australia, Albania, Georgia and Israel recognized him. Spain, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands said they would follow suit unless Maduro declared elections within eight days.
In contrast, Russia, Belarus, Bolivia, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Turkey have backed Maduro, while China has called for resolving all differences peacefully and warned against foreign interference. The United Nations chief, in turn, has called for dialogue to resolve the crisis.