London’s High Court has ruled in favor of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó in a battle for the control of gold reserves worth almost $2 billion held in the Bank of England, in a blow to Venezuela’s authoritarian President, Nicolas Maduro.
After a four-day trial, the court ruled that the British government recognizes Guaidó as interim President of Venezuela, and control of the gold should fall to a board of advisers named by the Venezuelan opposition, and not to an alternative board named by Maduro, according to a copy of the ruling published on Friday.
The dispute dates back to 2019 when Guaidó, then the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, swore himself in as interim leader of the South American country following a controversial presidential election won by Maduro amid extensive human rights abuse claims.
More than 50 countries around the world, including the United Kingdom, supported Guaidó’s claim and recognized him as interim President of Venezuela.
Guaidó sought control of Venezuelan assets abroad, including sovereign funds held in the Bank of England, a move disputed by the Maduro government in court.
The ruling represents a significant victory for Guaidó, who has seen support for his leadership among the Venezuelan opposition eroded in recent years.
“This represents a decision to take a further step towards protecting Venezuela’s sovereign gold reserves for the benefit of the Venezuelan people,” Guaidó said in a statement released shortly after the ruling.
However, Guaidó’s board will not be allowed to access the funds until the legal dispute is fully resolved, the court also ruled. Lawyers for Maduro’s board said they were considering an appeal, Reuters reported.
CNN has contacted the Maduro government for a response.