July 24, 2020 / 4:41 PM / 20 days ago

Venezuela central bank wins right to appeal British ruling recognising Guaido: lawyers

LONDON (Reuters) - Lawyers for Venezuela’s central bank (BCV) said on Friday they have won the right to appeal a ruling by the English High Court which recognised Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s president.

The decision follows a ruling earlier this month which is part of a tug-of-war over whether Guaido or Nicolas Maduro should control $1 billion of Venezuela’s gold reserves stored at the Bank of England in London.

“It is incredibly rare for a trial judge to give leave to appeal against their own judgment, and we are pleased to have been granted a limited appeal,” said Sarosh Zaiwalla, partner at Zaiwalla & Co which represents the BCV.

Guaido’s legal team declined to comment. The court could not immediately confirm details.

The case centers on which of the two rival presidents Britain now views as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.

The British government in early 2019 joined dozens of nations in backing Guaido, head of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled congress, after he declared an interim presidency and denounced Maduro as an usurper.

Guaido, at the time, asked the Bank of England to prevent Maduro’s government from accessing the gold, which the opposition claims Maduro wants to use to pay off his foreign allies.

In May, Maduro’s central bank (BCV) sued the Bank of England to recover control, saying it was depriving the BCV of funds needed to finance Venezuela’s coronavirus response. The Bank of England then asked the court to determine who the British government recognized as Venezuela’s president.

Reporting by Karin Strohecker; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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