Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro attempted to repatriate the country’s gold reserve stored in the Bank of England, but stumbled upon the British regulator’s reluctance to cooperate on the matter. The bank refused to release 15 tons of Venezuelan gold bars worth about $550 million before the standard anti-money laundering (AML) procedures are conducted.
“There are concerns that Mr. [Nicolas] Maduro may seize the gold, which is owned by the state, and sell it for personal gain,” – an unnamed source familiar with the matter stated, as quoted by The Times.
According to Reuters, the Venezuelan leader explained his intention to move the country’s gold reserve back to Caracas by concerns for its fate in case it falls under international sanctions. The British authorities have met this statement with distrust, suspecting an attempt to sell the nation’s treasures and grab the proceeds of a deal.
At the same time, Maduro’s statements about the likelihood of the Venezuelan gold being at risk of seizure may prove to be prophetic. The country has long been economically marginalized. Last week, the U.S. government renewed its sanctions against Venezuela. The European Union did the same yesterday.
Against the background of a severe economic crisis, Venezuelan government is busy integrating the controversial oil-backed Petro cryptocurrency. The launch of Petro provoked outrage from the USA. U.S. President Donald Trump sanctioned the Venezuelan digital currency in March. This was followed by Bitfinex cryptocurrency exchange’s public refusal to list PTR tokens.
As for Venezuelans themselves, they seem to prefer bitcoins to the national cryptocurrency Petro and redenominated “sovereign bolivar”. BTC trading volumes keep on breaking records in the country despite all the measures taken by the authorities for tracing “undesirable” crypto transactions. As it may be seen from the last week’s statistics provided, bitcoin trade volume beats all previous highs with 1075 BTC worth more than $7 million in total having changed hands on LocalBitcoins cryptocurrency exchange alone.