Following a court decision in Portugal, Venezuela could be a step closer to regaining significant assets held in the UK and the US.
The Central Civil Court of Lisbon ordered Novo Banco in Portugal to return over €1.352 billion (US$1.5 billion) to Venezuela, funds which were held since 2019.
These funds were under contention due to differing views on their rightful management: opposition figure Juan Guaidó or the Venezuelan government.
These accounts, intended for medical supplies and drugs overseas, belonged to various Venezuelan public institutions, including the oil company PDVSA and the state bank Bandes.
Over recent years, Venezuela’s administration under President Nicolás Maduro pursued legal avenues to reclaim these funds, asserting Maduro’s position as the legitimate leader against Guaidó’s claims.
Though the decision is binding only in Portugal, it boosts the chances for Venezuela in ongoing litigation elsewhere.
A significant contention lies with the Bank of England, where Venezuela seeks the release of 32 tons of gold worth between €1.8 billion to €2 billion.
Venezuelan gold, which once represented one of the largest reserves in the world, has been deeply reduced in the last years, with a loss of up to 10 tonnes in 2022, according to financial statements of the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV), reviewed by Reuters.
In 2022, a London court sided with a Guaidó-appointed board concerning these gold reserves.
However, given the Portuguese verdict, there’s hope it might influence a positive outcome for Venezuela in the UK and beyond.
Additionally, efforts are being made to retrieve US$4 billion from PDVSA’s subsidiary, Citgo, in the US and funds in Japanese banks.
Venezuelan officials commend their nation’s persistent diplomatic efforts to ensure the rightful use of overseas assets. However, critics argue the situation highlights global system flaws, both economically and diplomatically, suggesting that sanctions against Venezuela and asset retentions were politically motivated to destabilize the country.