BOGOTA, Colombia

Venezuela’s central bank said Thursday that a British court has ordered a hearing to be held in June to decide on a lawsuit filed by Caracas against the Bank of England after it refused to return 31 tons of gold it has in its vaults to the country.  

“Our struggle continues to return the Venezuelan gold that is in the Bank of England. Today, the English Court ordered that the next hearing be held after 06/22/2020. We hope to find justice, to save Venezuelan lives during this [coronavirus] pandemic,” the bank said on Twitter. 

The Venezuelan government has said that it seeks to allocate a portion of the gold held at the Bank of England, valued at $1 billion, to purchase medicines, food and medical equipment to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Central bank Governor Calixto Ortega said Wednesday that Venezuela has a deal with the UN Development Programme to fund the country’s coronavirus response. 

However, the court said Thursday that it would need to decide which party could represent Venezuela in the case — President Nicolas Maduro or opposition leader Juan Guaido, who the UK recognizes as Venezuela’s interim president. The court said it will begin hearings no earlier than June 22. 

For decades, Venezuela has stored gold in the vaults of the UK’s central bank, which provides gold custodian services to developing countries. But since 2018, the bank has refused to transfer the funds to Maduro’s government.

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