CARACAS/SAOPAULO: At least 8 tonnes of gold were removed from the Venezuelan central bank’s vaults last week, an opposition legislator and three government sources told Reuters, in the latest sign of President Nicolas Maduro’s desperation to raise hard currency amid tightening sanctions.
The gold was removed in government vehicles between Wednesday and Friday last week when there were no regular security guards present at the bank, Legislator Angel Alvarado and the three government sources said. “They plan to sell it abroad illegally,” Alvarado said. The central bank did not respond to requests for comment. Alvarado and the government sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not say where the central bank was sending the gold. They said the operation took place while central bank head Calixto Ortega was abroad on a trip.
In 2018, 23 tonnes of mined gold were transported from Venezuela to Istanbul by plane, according to sources and Turkish government data.