As the multi-layered manuevering in regard to Venezuela continues, it was reported a couple of days ago that the Bank of England has taken actions in line with Washington’s lead.
The Bank of England has refused to hand over $1.2 billion of Venezuelan gold back to the Venzuelan government. Above is a clip from RT of Richard Wolff discussing the matter.
The explanation seems to be deny the ‘illegitimate’ Maduro government access to the country’s own gold reserves, because it will be used to strengthen his position during this crisis. This move comes as the United States and a number of other governments have officially refused to acknowledge President Maduro anymore as the elected leader of Venezuela.
Apparently, the request for the UK to freeze Venezuela’s assets came from the National Assembly leader Juan Guaido – the figure being championed by the US and others as now being the recognised leader of Venezuela. The claim – made by Trump’s Secretary of the Treasury and former Goldman Sachs banker Steve Mnuchin – is that the Venezuelan assets will only be released to a post-Maduro government under the leadership of Guaido.
The Bank of England seems to be following Steven Mnuchin’s lead.
That being the same Steve Mnuchin who was involved in the 2008 Financial Crisis, the housing crisis and the foreclosures scandal, in which many Americans were royally screwed over. But I digress.
This freezing of assets is also of course reminiscent of the moves Washington and others made against Gaddafi and Libya during the international operation to overthrow that state.
Back then, the US and its allies froze all Libyan assets being held in Western banks: and claimed they would be making those assets available instead to the various opposition groups and armed militias fighting to overthrow the Libyan state.
It was essentially the same logic Steven Mnuchin and the Bank of England are using now.
And, of course, one of the lingering mysteries after the fall of Gaddafi in 2011 has been the question of what happened to all of Libya’s gold.
Among the leaked Hillary Clinton emails was one in which advisor Sidney Blumenthal forwarded her an intelligence memo explaining how France and Nicolas Sarkosy‘s reason for leading the charge into Libya was primarily the fear that Gaddafi was using his vast gold supply to displace France’s financial domination of Africa. As is well known by now, Gaddafi’s planned (gold-backed) pan-African currency was set to directly threaten both the French currency and the dollar.
It was one of several key reasons the Anglo-French-American triumvirate took such total and decisive action.
This video clip is of an angry Gaddafi ranting at British, American and French journalists in Tripoli in February 2011, at the start of the uprising.
This footage – for obvious reasons – never appeared in the original interview broadcasts on the BBC, CNN or ABC. In this footage, a clearly agitated Gaddafi is complaining about the freezing of Libyan assets abroad, adding that he wants to poke his fingers ‘in David Cameron’s eyes’. The gold notwithstanding, Gaddafi and the Libyan state still had a lot of investments in the UK at this time: not as much as countries like China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, but still a substantial amount.
A lot of people at the time thought this clip was funny: but given the directions things later went in, it really isn’t funny at all.
There are multiple speculations about what has happened to Libya’s gold, but no definitive answer. At this rate, it could be a ‘mystery’ that goes on for decades: I’ve even looked at claims that the Libyan gold was covertly funnelled into Honduras some time after Hillary Clinton’s State Department legitimised the right-wing military coup in that country that saw the democratically-elected president forced into exile.
Business Insider and The Financial Times, in March 2011, had cited data from the IMF confirming that Libya held some 143.8 tonnes of gold ‘but some say the actual amount could be several tonnes higher‘.
Unlike the Venezuela situation, however, Gaddafi didn’t deposit the Libyan gold abroad.
The Business Insider article from 2011 added, that ‘Instead of vaults in London, York or Switzerland, Libyan bullion is in the country held by its central bank, which is under Gaddafi’s control.’
The same report explained one of the reasons Western powers were anxious about Gaddafi’s gold reserves: it meant that the freezing of all Libya’s assets abroad wasn’t going to be enough to weaken Gaddafi sufficiently. In other words, Gaddafi’s forces had enough resources to fight the ‘long war’ against the various militias, jihadist groups, foreign mercenaries, NATO forces, CIA, and everyone else who was working 24/7 to force the regime-change and plunge Libya into chaos.
The article clarified that Libya’s gold was, ‘Worth around $6.5 billion at current prices, enough to finance Gadhafi’s defense against opposition and international forces for quite a while, to say the least…’
I haven’t been able to figure out whether there’s any substantial gold reserve in Venezuela: or whether the Venezuelans made the error of keeping all of their gold in the UK. Or indeed whether those assets even exist anymore or whether the Bank of England has been up to any kind of funny business.
The assets being denied to Maduro means, among other things, that Maduro will struggle to maintain his position financially: he, for example, might not be able to sustain payment to the Venezuelan military (which seems, largely, to support Maduro’s government): which, in turn, could lead to the military’s support waning, making it easier for the US to force a coup.
At any rate, I wonder if other countries are looking at this and having second thoughts about anything they have deposited in the UK. The message seems to be that you’re better off going the Scrooge McDuck route and keeping all your gold in a chamber beneath your house.
As Richard Wolff points out in his RT interview (above), the Bank of England’s actions here are hardly going to make a good impression in terms of other countries’ post-Brexit dealings with the UK.
Not that anyone trusts Britain anymore anyway.
Read more: ‘The Libya Conspiracy: A Guide to the Crime of the Century‘, ‘Libya After Gaddafi: The Humiliation of the Failed State‘, ‘The Honduras Conspiracy and the Truth About the Migrant Caravan‘, ‘Hillary Clinton & the Murder Capital of the World‘, ‘An Interview with JOANNE MORIARTY: On the Situation in Libya‘, ‘Libya & the Trial of David Cameron‘…