Angel Alvarado, deputy of the Venezuelan National Assembly, confirmed that part of the 8 tons of gold extracted from the Central Bank of Venezuela (BVC) at the end of February appeared in Uganda. But he indicated that 0.6 tons were missing. The shipment was detained as it was part of the smuggling operation.
“We remind Uganda that this gold was illegally taken from Venezuela and that BCV is being usurped,” Alvarado denounced.
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On February 27, Reuters confirmed that at least eight tons of gold had been taken from BCV's vaults to be sold outside the country.
Ugandan police said the gold arrived into the country illegally last week.
The government of Uganda has announced an investigation to find out how 7.4 tons of gold entered the country. According to the Spanish newspaper “El Pais”, the investigations focus on the recent imports that arrived at the largest gold refinery in the country, worth $300 million.
El Pais indicated that the refinery (AGR, its abbreviation in English), admitted that the gold came from South America, but did not provide further details and rejected the smuggling accusations.
“All required documents have been provided [a la policía] “AGR transactions are legal and the documents are 1,000% legitimate,” the company told Reuters. However, Ugandan police spokesman Fred Enanga said intelligence reports indicate that AGR received a 3.8-ton shipment on March 2, and another 3.6-ton shipment two days later. He pointed out, “But none of the shipments passed through the official customs ports.”
Three days after the arrival of these shipments, the police entered the AGR offices and found the batch of 3.6 tons, but the first shipment had disappeared. “We are very interested in knowing the whereabouts of the 3.8 tons of gold,” Enanga said. According to the government newspaper New Vision, the gold came from Venezuela.
Seeking to financially encircle Nicolás Maduro's administration, the United States imposed sanctions and asked international gold buyers to stop doing business with his government.
Following that advice, Noor Capital in Abu Dhabi, which bought three tons of gold from the Central Bank of Venezuela in January, said it did not plan to buy more bullion in Caracas until the situation stabilized.
The Venezuelan Central Bank was forced to suspend the sale of at least another 15 tons of gold from its reserves to the United Arab Emirates, in exchange for obtaining euros in cash to finance its imports, according to senior government sources to Reuters.
Bullion sales are almost the only alternative for Maduro to obtain liquidity, given the decline in oil revenues and the closure of almost all international financing options due to the strict sanctions imposed by Washington to pressure him from power.
About 20 tons of monetary gold were no longer in issuer hands in 2018, according to BCV's balance sheet. At the end of the year there were about 140 tons of gold reserves, the lowest volume in 75 years, according to official data.
The Bank of England has another 31 tonnes of gold from the Venezuelan central bank, which has taken steps to withdraw it. But the South American country's Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, on Wednesday denounced the British entity's keeping Venezuela's assets frozen.
Source: Venezuelan El Nacional, GDA/El País/Reuters
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