Opposition legislator Angel Alvarado told Reuters on Wednesday the Maduro regime has removed at least eight tons of gold from Venezuela’s central bank for unknown reasons. At current prices, the gold is worth over $300 million. Alvarado’s account was backed up by three sources within the Venezuelan government.
According to Alvarado, the gold was spirited out of the central bank last week at a time when no regular security guards were on duty and the chief executive of the bank was out of the country.
“They plan to sell it abroad illegally,” he charged.
Reuters noted 23 tons of gold were sent to Turkey under similar circumstances in 2018 to pay for food supplies, while foreign investors occasionally provide the Maduro regime with hard currency by purchasing some of Venezuela’s gold.
The Trump administration, speaking through National Security Adviser John Bolton, warned international bankers and traders in January not to “deal in gold, oil, or other Venezuelan commodities being stolen from the Venezuelan people by the Maduro mafia.”
31 tons of Venezuelan gold are stored in the Bank of England, some of it recently recovered collateral for a loan from Germany’s Deutsche Bank. Maduro and his officials are worried it could be frozen through international sanctions. Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said on Wednesday that the Bank of England has blocked access to Venezuela’s assets.
Bloomberg News reported in early February that Maduro sold and traded more than 40 percent of Venezuela’s gold reserves in 2018 to finance government programs and pay bondholders. This information was divulged by opposition lawmakers and verified by sources knowledgeable about Venezuela’s gold reserves.