Venezuela Reaches Deal With U.N. to Buy Food, Medicine With Gold

CARACAS (Reuters) -
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks at a press conference in March, 2020. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Venezuela has reached a deal with the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) to destine part of its gold in Bank of England accounts to finance the purchase of food and medicine during the coronavirus pandemic, its central bank governor said on Wednesday.

The deal comes after the central bank made a legal claim earlier this month to try to force the bank to hand over part of the 31 tons of gold in accounts belonging to the government of President Nicolas Maduro, who Britain does not recognize as Venezuela’s legitimate leader due to allegations he rigged his 2018 re-election.

Central bank governor Calixto Ortega told Reuters that under the arrangement, the UNDP would receive the funds directly, a move meant to assuage concerns about potential corruption in the management of the money.

“It’s not my word, it’s not me saying that I am going to buy food, medicine and medical equipment,” Ortega said in an interview in his downtown Caracas office. “It’s the United Nations who is saying that, and they are not going to be involved in anything dark that is not neutral and independent.”

Neither the UNDP nor the Bank of England immediately responded to requests for comment.

Ortega said he was optimistic the legal case in Britain would be resolved in the coming weeks.