Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has asked UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney not to return gold bullions to President Nicolas Maduro's government, according to the Ambito news website.
In a letter on 26 January, Guaido reportedly urged May and Carney to delay "this illegal transaction […] since if the gold is handed over, it will be used by the Maduro regime to crack down on people".
Ambito's report comes after Guaido, on Saturday, praised the Bank of England’s alleged refusal to withdraw Venezuela's gold reserves, worth circa $1.2 billion, following President Nicolas Maduro's request.
He wrote in a tweet that "the process of protecting the assets of Venezuela has begun" and that the opposition "will not allow more abuse and theft of money intended for food, medicine and the future of our children".
Earlier that day, the Bloomberg news agency cited sources as saying the Bank of England had denied Maduro's request to withdraw Venezuela's gold reserves after US State Secretary Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton lobbied the UK government to cut off the Venezuelan government's access to foreign assets.
The long-running political crisis in Venezuela escalated last week when Guaido proclaimed himself the country's interim president and demanded early elections.
Apart from the US, Guaido was recognised by a number of countries, including Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Georgia, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, and Peru.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, for his part, described the events in Venezuela as a gross violation of the country's sovereignty and blamed the United States for interfering.