Critics have acused Mr Maduro of selling off state-owned gold
The money is needed to import basic goods while embattled President Nicolas Maduro defiantly clings to power, sending the country deeper into crisis. The oil-rich country’s socialist government imports basic products, from rice to toilet paper, and sells them at subsidised prices. The sale began last Saturday when three tonnes were sent to the gulf nation while the remaining shipments are expected to take place this month, a source told Reuters.
Mr Guaido accompanied by his wife and young daughter speaks to the media
On Friday, Abu Dhabi-based investment firm Noor Capital confirmed it had bought three tonnes of gold on January 21 from Venezuela.
The official with knowledge of the plan denied Russia, a long-time ally of Venezuela, was involved in the operation after it was suggested Russian-operated planes touched down in Venezuela and planned to leave carrying gold.
Venezuela’s central bank reportedly began selling off its gold reserves to allied nations after supplies of unrefined gold from small mines began to dwindle.
While the bank held a total of 150 tonnes of gold in January 2018, by the end of November holdings had fallen to 132 tonnes between the central bank’s vaults and the Bank of England.
In recent weeks, the coutnry has seen many protests including this one against Mr Maduro
British bankers are said to feel uneasy about the prospect of Venezuelan officials selling state-owned gold in return for “personal gain”.
According to sources, Calixto Ortega, the president of Venezuela’s central bank, met with Bank of England officials in December to discuss repatriating the gold but was unable to convince them.
The trade follows the shipment of $900 million (£687 million) in unrefined gold to Turkey last year.
US-imposed sanctions, which make it harder for nations to trade with Venezuela, have created a hunger for euros because the currency is subject to less restrictions than dollars.
Venezuela’s unstable political climate has divided the world’s major powers, with the US calling on socialist President Nicolas Maduro to step down and recognise opposition leader Juan Guaido as the troubled country’s legitimate leader.
US Senator Marco Rubio, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, warned the UAE and Turkey not to be “accomplices” in shipping gold out of Venezuela’s, saying they would face US sanctions for doing so.
He tweeted: “Maduro is raiding the gold reserves of Venezuela to generate cash.
“He has already stolen at least 10% of total reserves in the last week.
Marco Rubio warned natins buying Venezuelan gold to expect sanctions
“I hope the UAE & Turkey will not be accomplices in this outrageous crime.”
Moscow whose fierce criticism of Washington has united it with Caracas vowed to do “everything required” to help embattled Mr Maduro stay in power.
In recent years, Russia has expanded its arms sales to Venezuela and last December it flew two nuclear-capable bombers into the country’s capital as a show of support for the unpopular president.
On Saturday, shadow chancellor John McDonnell urged embattled President Maduro to take up Pope Francis’ offer and “get round the table” to engage in talks with his opponent.
The pontiff said he fears a “bloodshed” in Venezuela as he refused to publicly side with either Mr Guaido or President Maduro.
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