The US Treasury has imposed several rounds of sanctions on Venezuelan state companies since January, when opposition figure Juan Guaido proclaimed himself interim president, escalating the crisis in the South American country.
In the past two weeks, Venezuela has sold 15 tonnes of gold worth $570 million from central bank reserves, managing to bypass US Treasury sanctions, Bloomberg cited sources familiar with the matter as saying.
The sources claimed that on 10 May, the Venezuelan Central Bank sold about 9.7 tonnes of gold and four tons more three days later; this brought the country’s gold reserves to a 29-year low of $7.9 billion.
According to one of the sources, “the proceeds will be partly used to fund imports through the country’s foreign trade office”. The Central Bank is yet to comment on the matter.
Bloomberg reported that since the beginning of April, Venezuela has sold 23 tonnes of gold, in the face of a US economic blockade aimed to stop the Latin American country’s trading operations.
The sale comes after Venezuela reportedly announced plans in February to sell 15 tonnes of its Central Bank gold to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and be paid in cash in euros.
The goal was to sell a total of 29 tonnes to Abu Dhabi in order to provide liquidity for imports of basic products.
In a separate development that month, President Nicolas Maduro suggested that “more or less 80 tonnes” of Venezuela’s gold could be frozen in the Bank of England.
This followed Bloomberg’s report that the Bank of England refused to withdraw Venezuela’s gold reserves worth $1.2 billion after Maduro’s request.
The US Treasury has imposed several rounds of sanctions on Venezuelan state companies since January. In late March, the Treasury specifically sanctioned the Venezuelan state gold mining firm Minerven and its president, Adrian Antonio Perdomo Mata.
The total damages from US sanctions against Venezuela have already reportedly exceeded $100 billion dollars.
Venezuela remains embroiled in a political standoff, which escalated after opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself the country’s interim president in late January, in a move immediately supported by the US and its allies. Maduro accused Guaido of being a “puppet”, while blasting Washington for orchestrating a coup in the Latin American country.
Russia, China, Cuba, Bolivia, Turkey and a number of other countries have voiced their support for Maduro as the only legitimate president of Venezuela.