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Venezuela now wants to sell its BOE-stored gold to the U.N. for coronavirus relief - reports

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(Kitco News) Unable to repatriate its gold back from the Bank of England (BOE), Venezuela now wants to sell part of it to the United Nations to help with coronavirus relief, according to news reports.

Venezuela is once again making the headlines in the gold space after its failed attempt to repatriate its 31 tons of gold stored by the BOE in 2018 after the U.K. central bank refused to recognize Nicolas Maduro as the country’s legitimate leader following a disputed re-election that year.

Venezuela wants the proceeds of the U.N. sale to help the country battle the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters reported, citing two sources familiar with the matter.

The United Nations Development Program stated that it “has been approached recently to explore mechanisms to use existing resources held by the Central Bank of Venezuela in financial institutions outside the country to fund the ongoing efforts to address the ... the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Reuters report said.

It is unclear how much of its gold Venezuela wants to sell, but the total amount is currently wroth about $1.7 billion.

“The effort signals that Maduro is desperately seeking financial resources around the world as the country’s economy struggles under low oil prices, crippling U.S. sanctions and a paralyzing coronavirus quarantine,” Reuters reported.

The highly disputed Maduro re-election back in 2018 was at the center of the BOE decision not to release the gold. “There are concerns that Mr. Maduro may seize the gold, which is owned by the state, and sell it for personal gain,” the Times reported back in 2018. 

Maduro began the repatriation ordeal after the U.S. President Donald Trump introduced additional sanctions against Venezuela.

Former U.N. aid chief Jan Egeland spoke out on Tuesday, calling for sanctions on Venezuela and other countries to be lifted and Venezuelan funds soared in Britain, the U.S. and Portugal to be released.

As of Tuesday, Venezuela officially had only 329 coronavirus cases with at least 10 deaths, but many observers have questioned that figure as being too low, citing lack of running water and poor public health-care system.

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