The British High Court of Justice in London ruled on Friday, July 29, that a recent ruling by Venezuela's Supreme Tribunal of Justice (STJ) should be disregarded. The STJ supported Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's plea for his country to take back ownership of the gold reserves stored by the U.K. (Related: Ukraine has sold $12 billion of its gold reserves since start of Russian invasion.)
This marks the latest victory for opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has won a series of legal clashes over the gold reserves after the British government recognized him rather than Maduro as the rightful president of Venezuela.
Maduro and Guaido have each appointed a different board to the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV), and the two have issued conflicting instructions regarding what to do with the gold reserves.
"I conclude that there is no basis for the recognition of the judgments upon which the Maduro Board relies," said Judge Sara Cockerill. "The Guaido Board therefore succeeds."
The ruling supports the British government's decision to recognize Guaido as the legal ruler of Venezuela over Maduro.
The long-running case has been heard by several British courts since Maduro first sued the bank for access to the Venezuelan bullion during the early stages of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. He claimed his country needed the money to build up a pandemic relief fund.
Guaido's camp claims Maduro's cash-strapped administration will use the money raised from selling the bullion to pay off his foreign allies. He then claimed that his camp needs the gold to help future generations of Venezuelans.
The Venezuelan opposition asked the Bank of England to prevent Maduro's government from gaining access to the gold in 2019, which is when Maduro's central bank board started suing the Bank of England to recover control, saying the bank was depriving Venezuelans of necessary funds.
Guaido and his camp applauded the ruling in a statement, writing that the decision is "another step in the process of protecting Venezuela's international gold reserves and preserving them for the Venezuelan people. This type of honest and transparent judicial process does not exist in Venezuela."
Maduro's camp said it rejects the court's ruling and intends to file an appeal, writing that it reserved "all legal action at its disposal to appeal this unusual and disastrous decision."
"The Venezuelan state will continue to defend its interests, protecting and guaranteeing the rights of all Venezuelans," said Maduro's Vice President Delcy Rodriguez in a statement for a state television station.
"This is an unfortunate ruling," said Sarosh Zaiwalla of Zaiwalla & Co, which represented Maduro's central bank board. "The BCV remains concerned that the cumulative effect of the judgments of the English Court appears to accord a simple statement by the U.K. government recognizing as a head of state a person with no effective control or power over any part of that state."
A hearing set for October will decide which issues the British courts are willing to continue taking up.
Learn more about gold and the gold reserves of different nations at GoldReport.news.
Watch this episode of "Zoon Politikon" as host Holly Seeliger talks about the London High Court ruling against Venezuela in its legal battle with the Bank of England.