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Venezuelan officials seek meeting with Bank of England over gold repatriation, sources tell Reuters
By Mayela Armas
Thursday, December 6, 2018
CARACAS -- Two high-ranking Venezuelan officials are traveling to London with plans to meet with the Bank of England over the repatriation of $550 million in gold held in the bank’s coffers, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.
The government of President Nicolas Maduro is seeking to bring 14 tonnes of gold back to Venezuela because of fears it could be caught up in international sanctions on the country, sources told Reuters this month.
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The gold is a crucial asset for the struggling OPEC nation, where hyperinflation is expected to reach 1 million percent this year and a broad economic collapse has fueled an exodus of some 3 million people since 2015.
Maduro’s critics, including exiled opposition leader Julio Borges, have argued that the gold should not be repatriated because it could be used to finance corruption.
Finance Minister Simon Zerpa, who is under sanction by the United States over corruption concerns, and Central Bank Chief Calixto Ortega plan to discuss the issue with Bank of England officials on Friday, said the sources, who asked not to be identified. ...
The Trump administration levied a new round of sanctions a month ago against Venezuela meant to disrupt its gold exports.
But blocking repatriation of Venezuela’s gold would be politically explosive for the Bank of England.
The bank offers gold custodian services to many developing countries, which would likely be concerned that they could be targeted for having adversarial relationships with Washington. ...
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