US $ 1.9 Billion Gold Reserves from Venezuela held at Bank of England.
President Nicolas Maduro and his political rival Juan Guiado are both laying claim to the gold. Venezuela Central Bank ( BCV) has sued the Bank of England for the control and access to the gold. The lawyers representing BCV indicated in the documents that some of proceeds from the sale of the gold equivalent to $1.0 Billion will be utilized to address Venezuela’s COVID-19 response that accelerated Venezuela’s fragile economic and health crisis.
The embattled president Maduro used the pandemic crisis to exert his power and authority by issuing lockdown orders, ordering the military to enforce strict social distancing, and directing the military to guard and ration fuel supplies to local communities. The human rights groups have raised concerns about the criminal activities and transnational illegal groups working in cohorts with militia groups in the mining sector .
The international human rights organizations have called up sanction on Venezuelan “BLOODY GOLD” for the illegal activities and killings committed by militia groups in the gold mining areas.
Venezuela boasts the largest oil reserves in the world, but with the near collapse of the national economy, due to many years of neglect , mismanagement and corruption, gold is increasingly gained importance as means of transacting local businesses and for executing foreign exchange obligations.
Most of the country’s gold reserves are located in a 40,000 kilometer square area that stretches from Guyana to Colombia in Bolivar State. CNN conducted an investigative report on gold activities in Venezuela and found that most of the mines are controlled by criminal gangs called Pranes , who collect between 30%-50% from the artisanal miners for gold extracted. Those who refuse to pay are killed and thrown into the mine pits.
Most of the mining operators use outdated technologies and practices using dangerous chemicals , poisoning vital water resources with mercury, cyanide and other toxic substances. The mining activities and practices also pose great danger to the environment and society.
A Rare Peek of Gold Vault Bank of England
The Bank of England is one of the largest depository of gold in the world. The vaults have huge capacity to hold over 400,000 bars of gold , which is stored in 9 underground vaults.