Like all states, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has deposited assets in foreign banks for the purpose of insuring its exports, oil in particular. Consequently, she deposited several billion dollars in the Bank of England. However, in early 2019, when she decided to sell off some of her assets to meet both her export difficulties and her growing food needs, the Bank kept them back.

Causing a stir worldwide, it gave rise to a diplomatic battle at the United Nations and a legal battle in the UK. At the first instance, the British courts justified the seizure on the grounds that the Crown no longer recognized the government of Venezuela, but that of its opponent, Juan Guaidó. Ultimately, the London Court of Appeals overturned this decision and ordered the funds to be reurned to Venezuela.

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In a recently published book (The World for Sale), Javier Blas, head of Bloomberg’s energy department, reveals that Sir Alan Duncan (then Deputy Foreign Minister for Europe and the Americas) acknowledged having pressured Bank of England Governor Mark Carney to reject Venezuela’s request.

Wikileaks had already exposed Sir Alan Duncan’s behaviour in Libya, when, during the 2011 war, he pressured fuel exporters to stop supplying the Libyan Arab Jamahariya and sell it instead to the secessionists in Benghazi.