(CNN) — A judge of the High Court of London ruled this Friday in favor of Juan Guaidó, leader of the Venezuelan opposition, in the dispute over the control of approximately US $ 2,000 million in gold that is held by the Bank of England on behalf of the Bank Center of Venezuela.
After four days of trial, Judge Sara Cockerill decided that the United Kingdom Government recognizes Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela and that control of the gold should fall to a board of advisers appointed by the Venezuelan opposition and not an alternative board appointed by the questioned president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, according to a copy of the decision that was published this Friday.
After the decision, the Central Bank of Venezuela issued a statement in which it rejects the ruling and says that “it undermines the legitimate powers of administration of the international reserves of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which, constitutionally and legally, must be exercised by the Central bank of Venezuela”. In addition, it maintains that international law was violated and that it “reserves all legal actions at its disposal to resort to this unusual and disastrous decision in defense of gold.”
The dispute dates back to 2019 when Guaidó, then president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, was sworn in as Venezuela’s interim leader following disputed elections that Maduro won, amid multiple allegations of human rights abuses.
More than 50 countries around the world, including the United Kingdom, have recognized Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela.
Guaidó sought control of Venezuelan assets abroad, including sovereign wealth funds in the Bank of England, a move that the disputed Maduro government challenged in court.
This Friday’s ruling establishes that, as the British government still recognizes Guaidó’s claim to the presidency, control of the funds should fall to him.
However, Judge Cockerill also ruled that Guaidó’s board will not be able to access the funds until the legal dispute is fully resolved.
The ruling marks an important victory for Guaidó, whose leadership among the Venezuelan opposition has eroded in recent years.
“This decision represents one more step towards the protection of Venezuela’s sovereign gold reserves for the benefit of the Venezuelan people,” Guaidó said in a statement issued shortly after the ruling.