A mysterious and recently created Turkish firm has helped Nicolás Maduro to move USD $900 million in gold from Venezuela.
A report by Bloomberg reveals that two months after Maduro visited President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, a mysterious company called Sardes was created, in January 2018.
As a result of the recent sanctions the United States has imposed on PDVSA, the illegitimate regime of Nicolás Maduro has been severely hampered in its ability to obtain foreign currency. As a result, the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) is illegally mining, selling, and transporting tons of gold.
The sale of gold has become an alternative that Maduro has used to obtain liquidity in the face of declining oil revenues and, above all, in the face of US sanctions.
Recently it was learned that Maduro was looking to sell at least 15 tons of gold to the United Arab Emirates, in exchange for euros in cash.
The news of this potential sale arose after it was learned that a mysterious Russian plane took at least 20 tons of gold from the Central Bank of Venezuela.
The US government has warned bankers, brokers, and global companies to avoid negotiating gold sales with Maduro.
Recently, US Senator Marco Rubio said that he had received “reports” about the visit of a supposed French citizen who works for Noor Capital to Caracas to “arrange the theft of more gold from Venezuela.”
According to Reuters, “in 2018 the Central Bank exported to Turkey and the Arab Emirates all the non-monetary gold it had bought from mining; a process that involves extracting the metal by hand in the south of the country, and has been ongoing since 2016, two sources familiar with these operations said.”
The news agency points out that the gold that is shipped to Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, has not only been exchanged for cash euros that return to Venezuela in planes, but also for products such as food and personal hygiene items.
“It is no longer known what is being exported,” said Gustavo Márquez, a former Minister of Commerce under the Chávez government. “Those operations should be transparent.”
Without the foreign exchange from oil sales, there is no money to finance the monstrous bureaucratic apparatus of the government, the Chavista missions, and the subsidized food.
Maduro mortgages Venezuela’s future with gold
Maduro invited Turkey to invest in the exploitation of a vast mining reserve known as the Arco del Orinoco which holds vast deposits of gold, diamond, and coltan, among other minerals; an action with which he mortgages Venezuela’s future.
Maduro offered Erdogan license to exploit gold, diamond, coltan, iron, and aluminum.
Now, in addition to the deals with the governments of China and Russia, the regime of Nicolás Maduro has “opened the doors” to the Turks to facilitate access to precious metals.
A report by the BBC World, revealed that Turkey opened a branch of a business association in Caracas, in February 2018.
This is MUSIAD Venezuela (Association of Industrialists and Independent Companies of Venezuela), which was created in order to serve as a “bridge” between the South American country and Turkish companies.
The director of MUSIAD is Hayri Kucukyavuz, a Turkish businessman who has lived and worked in Caracas for 24 years.
“Here, the government tells the Turkish companies: ‘We will give you the gold mine, you create the facilities, 70% of the mine will be yours and 30% will belong to the state’. There are several companies making such agreements here,” he told BBC Turkey.
In the absence of oil production in Venezuela, Maduro is desperate to seek other ways to “self-finance” in order to stay in power.
Maduro’s international actions and agreements show that he has handed over part of the country’s economy to Russia, China, and Turkey, all with the intention of staying in power.
Illegal mining keeps Maduro in power
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 Billingslea, said that after the abandonment of the state oil company PDVSA, the Maduro regime turned its attention to the exploitation of gold to obtain resources.
Billingslea denounced the plundering of the gold mines in southern Venezuela and said 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”: this would amount to USD $840 million.
The gold “is being taken out of the country without any accounting as to where the funds are going,” he said.
The representative of the Department of the Treasury denounced 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 and 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 amount to 8,000 tons, which would equal 243 billion euros, without even counting, in addition, the reserves of coltan, bauxite, copper, and diamonds.