Citigroup is reportedly preparing to sell gold bullion – which the Venezuelan Central Bank swapped for cash back in 2015 to keep the economy afloat and has now missed the deadline to buy back – and it wants to keep the change.
The American multinational investment bank has decided to sell off tons of Venezuelan gold reserves after the country’s Central Bank (VCB) missed the March 11 instalment to purchase back the collateral deposited to the British unit of Citibank over three years ago, in exchange for a $1.6 billion loan, multiple sources told Reuters and Bloomberg.
The sale could fetch more than $1.35 billion under current market conditions, which is way more than the $1.1 tranche payment Citi was waiting to receive from Maduro’s government. Instead of returning the excess to Caracas, over $250 million in spare change will be deposited into a bank account in New York, where the US has already placed a giant claw over seized Venezuelan funds.
Venezuela declared a force majeure, arguing that US sanctions and assets seizures prevented the country from paying back the loan on time, but the bank reportedly refused to extend the grace period. Citigroup and VCB have yet to issue a comment on the reports.
Earlier this month, self-proclaimed ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido reportedly approached Citibank urging them to block any attempts by Caracas to repurchase gold in order to ‘safeguard’ Venezuelan peoples’ riches until the opposition can get a hold of them. The US-backed politician also reportedly urged the Bank of England, which holds around $1.2 billion-worth of Venezuelan gold, not to transfer the reserves back to the Maduro government.