Tuesday 19 March 2019

Maduro removes tonnes of gold from central bank

 

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro. Photo: Reuters
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro. Photo: Reuters

Harry Cockburn

At least seven tonnes of gold were reportedly removed from the Venezuelan central bank's vaults by government officials last week, as President Nicolás Maduro seeks to raise capital amid tightening sanctions.

The gold was removed in government vehicles between Wednesday and Friday last week, when there were no regular security guards present at the bank.

Reuters said the information came from economist and National Assembly representative Angel Alvarado as well as "three government sources".

"They plan to sell it abroad illegally," Mr Alvarado said in an interview.

Mr Alvarado and the government sources did not say where the central bank was sending the gold. But they said the removal happened while Calixto Ortega, the central bank head, was abroad on a trip.

Mr Maduro is struggling to raise funds, as production of Venezuela's biggest export - oil - has collapsed in recent years, plunging the country into a deep economic crisis.

Furthermore the US has implemented tough sanctions on the country's oil industry to put pressure on Mr Maduro to stand down. The US is backing opposition leader Juan Guaidó who has declared himself "interim president" amid the crisis.

Mr Guaido arrived in Brazil on Wednesday to meet with new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro as part of a tour of several countries aimed at ratcheting up international pressure on Mr Maduro. (© The London Independent)

Irish Independent

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