Venezuela’s Guaido wins UK court ruling in fight for gold

LONDON (AP) — Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido won a British court ruling Friday that moves him one step closer to …

LONDON (AP) — Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido won a British court ruling on Friday that moves him one step closer to winning his fight against President Nicolas Maduro over a stash of gold bullion held at the Bank of England.

A High Court judge in London ruled that British courts do not have to recognize rulings by Venezuela’s Supreme Court of Justice, Venezuela’s highest constitutional court, which said the gold should go to Maduro.

The ruling is part of a long-running dispute over the assets of Venezuela’s central bank. Banco Central de Venezuela’s two rival boards – one appointed by Maduro and the other by Guaido – are battling to free more than 800 million pounds ($1 billion) of gold in the Bank of England’s vaults.

The British government recognizes Guaido as the president of Venezuela, and the Bank of England has refused to hand over Maduro’s gold.

Judge Sarah Cockerill said there were “no grounds” to uphold the Venezuelan court’s ruling that Guaido’s appointment to the bank’s board was unconstitutional. She said Guaido’s council “is therefore successful.”

In a statement, Guaido said the ruling was “another step in the process of protecting Venezuela’s international gold reserves and preserving them for the Venezuelan people and their future.”

A spokesman for the Maduro-appointed council said it was considering an appeal.

“This is an unfortunate ruling that ultimately rests on a narrow question of the law on the recognition of foreign judgments,” said lawyer Sarosh Zaivala, who represents Maduro’s council.

The Central Bank of Venezuela itself later issued a statement in which it complained that the British court had obeyed British foreign policy and violated international law.

As head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Guaido has challenged Maduro’s claim to the presidency, arguing that his 2018 election was rigged and invalid. Guaido says he is the country’s interim president under constitutional provisions that allow the head of the national legislature to take power until free elections are held.

While a number of countries, including the US and UK, have recognized Guaidó’s claims, he has never been able to assert his power, and Maduro remains in charge.

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