Britain has recognised Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s president, the English High Court has ruled, in a case over whether Guaido or Nicolas Maduro should control $1 billion of its gold stored in London.
A four-day hearing last week had been the last part of a tug-of-war over the gold and centred on which of the two rival presidents Britain now viewed as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.
High Court judge Nigel Teare handed down a judgment ruling that Britain had formally recognised Guaido as the constitutional interim President of Venezuela, and that due to the “One Voice” and “Act of State” doctrines the court is precluded from investigating the validity of Guaido’s acts.
“It (the High Court) has done so on the basis that such recognition is in accordance with the constitution of the Republic of Venezuela and has done so since 4 February 2019.”
Sarosh Zaiwalla, a lawyer representing the Maduro-backed Venezuelan central bank in the case said the bank would be seeking leave of the court to appeal the judgment.
It is part of an ongoing dispute between the Venezuelan central bank (BCV) and the Bank of England (BOE) over access to the gold kept in the BOE’s underground vaults.
Maduro has says would like to sell the gold to fund the country’s response to COVID-19, though Western sanctions could make it a difficult task.
If the BCV’s appeal is granted the accelerated pace of the case means it could go to the London Court of Appeal in the coming weeks. If that appeal were to prove successful it would then go up the Supreme Court.