Deutsche Bank joins with BOE to ask who owns Venezuelan gold

The lawsuits over the ownership of Venezuelan gold are starting to stack up.

Deutsche Bank AG wants a judge to decide whether about 100 million pounds ($123 million) held by receivers following a terminated gold deal should be delivered to President Nicolas Maduro’s administration or one run by opposition leader Juan Guaido.

The lawsuit, which had been secret, was revealed Thursday at a London hearing involving the Bank of England, which is asking a similar question. While the suits are separate, both are tied to questions surrounding the legitimacy of the Venezuelan central bank.

The Bank of England, which holds gold on behalf of Venezuela, has complained that it’s “caught in the middle” of rival claims. Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank wants the court to rule on the future of funds set aside after it terminated a gold swap agreement with the Venezuelan lender valued at $750 million last year.

A Deutsche Bank spokeswoman declined to comment.

While nations including the U.S. dismissed his 2018 re-election as rigged, Maduro still controls Venezuela’s ministries, courts and armed forces. Guaido, the opposition leader, has been backed by Washington and more than 50 other countries as the nation’s legitimate interim president for the past 16 months.

The Maduro-appointed Venezuelan central bank demanded that the BOE liquidate $1 billion in gold and send the funds to the United Nations Development Program, which is working with the country to prepare for an increase in Covid-19 cases. The government has stepped up its criticism of the BOE as the economic crisis deepens, saying it “pretends to rule” the country.

Both suits want the court to decide whether the U.K. has formally recognized Guaido as president of Venezuela, according to a legal filing by the Guaido administration. Judge Nigel Teare said the court would decide the issue as soon as late June.

(By Jonathan Browning, with assistance from Patricia Laya)

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