MAIQUETIA, Feb 3, 2019, Panampost. A Russian plane has spirited away 20 tons of gold from the Central Bank of Venezuela under the orders of the Nicolás Maduro, reported the Today Venezuela.
The plane in question was a Boeing 777 of the Russian airline Nordwind, with capacity for 500 passengers, which was observed on Monday, January 28, when it landed at the Simón Bolívar International Airport in Maiquetía, in the central state of Vargas.
Journalist Alexandra Belandia reported that “the tons of goal were loaded onto the plane that landed in Maiquetía…the event occurred during the early morning” of January 30.
The curious thing about the arrival of this Russian plane is that it usually flies routes to Southeast Asia and does not have Venezuela as a normal destination.
The economist and deputy of the National Assembly, José Guerra, warned that the plane was sent with the intent of taking away at least 20 tons of gold from the country. With an estimated value of USD $840 million dollars, the gold in question represents 20 percent of the gold reserves of Venezuela.
“We received information from officials of the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV); an airplane arrived from Moscow, with the aim of transporting at least 20 tons of gold,” he said.
“We demand from the BCV the details of what is happening. That gold does not belong to Calixto Ortega, it belongs to the Venezuelan people,” he concluded.
So far, the details of the transaction remain unkown, but Maduro’s indebtedness to Putin is the 500 pound elephant in the room with regard to the Russo-Venezuelan relationship.
Venezuela owes USD $17 billion to Moscow, which the Maduro regime is obligated to pay with the delivery of Venezuelan natural resources, due to the restrictions on use of currency due to international sanctions.
The shipment of this gold comes hours after the United States issued sanctions against the state oil company PDVSA, reducing the inflow of foreign currency to the South American country and hampering Nicolás Maduro’s maneuverability.
The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, responded to the allegations of the flight and its purpose: “No, there is no such information, we must be very careful with regard to various deceptions…they know it and it was officially said: Russia is ready to do everything possible to facilitate the normalization of the internal political situation in Venezuela, but without interfering in the internal affairs of this country. Russia is categorically against any meddling in the affairs of the country by a third country.”
For his part, US National Security Adviser John Bolton warned bankers, brokers, and intermediaries not to trade oil, gold, or other raw materials from Venezuela.
Last week, the Bank of England rejected Maduro officials’ request to withdraw USD $1.2 billion of gold deposited there after top US officials, including Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton , interceded with their British counterparts to deprive the regime of its assets abroad.
Illegal mining keeps Maduro in power
In the absence of oil production in Venezuela, the regime of Nicolás Maduro has found another way to “self-finance” to stay in power: it is exporting gold illegally to Turkey.
The US Treasury Department warned that Venezuela is increasingly using the gold trade “without environmental or accounting control” to finance the corruption networks that support the dictatorship.
The Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Marshall Billingsea, said that after the abandonment of the state oil company PDVSA, the Maduro regime began to focus its efforts on the exploitation of gold to obtain resources.
Billingsea denounced the plundering of gold mines in southern Venezuela and said that “it is approaching a situation similar to that of blood diamonds” in Africa.
According to the official, in recent months it is estimated that “21 metric tons of gold” have left Venezuela, which have gone “mainly to Turkey”, which would amount to USD $840 million.
Gold “is being taken out of the country without any accounting to know where the funds go,” he said.
The representative of the Department of the Treasury warned that this uncontrolled exploitation of gold will also become a problem for the region:
“It’s not about conventional mining: this is destroying forests by creating huge amounts of stagnant water that is contaminated with mercury and other chemicals. It will be an environmental catastrophe for decades, with outbreaks of malaria, dengue; and these diseases are going to move around the region with the millions of refugees,” he added.
Currently, it is almost impossible to calculate the amount of gold existing in the Venezuelan Mining Arc, it is believed that it could be over 8,000 tons, equivalent to $243 billion euros, without also counting the reserves of coltan, bauxite, copper, and diamond that also exist in the region.