Venezuela suggests Guaido nixed offer to buy coronavirus vaccines, opposition denies

CARACAS (Reuters) – Legal professionals for Venezuela’s central financial institution on Thursday reported opposition chief Juan Guaido turned down a proposed deal to acquire coronavirus vaccines in Britain, an assertion the opposition dismissed as bogus.

FILE Photo: A male walks outside the house of the Venezuela’s Central Bank in Caracas, Venezuela, January 31, 2018. REUTERS/Marco Bello

The legal professionals reported the bank – whose board was named by President Nicolas Maduro – asked for the aid of an advertisement-hoc central financial institution board appointed by Guaido to transfer $120 million in money frozen in Britain to Gavi, an alliance looking for to enhance inadequate countries’ vaccine access.

“Due to global sanctions the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in Venezuela have worsened, and President Maduro’s authorities has been unable to effect payment to Gavi to safe entry to COVID-19 vaccines by any other suggests,” the central bank’s lawyers at Zaiwalla & Co said in a statement.

The opposition argues chopping off Maduro’s accessibility to the money is justified due to the fact he would use the cash for corrupt finishes, somewhat than to support Venezuelans struggling a humanitarian disaster and financial collapse.

Guaido is regarded by dozens of countries, together with Britain, as Venezuela’s rightful chief right after Maduro’s disputed 2018 re-election. The two sides are locked in a London court docket battle about which side can have accessibility to over $1 billion really worth of Venezuelan gold stored at the Lender of England.

“I want to emphasize the fake mother nature of the info launched by the Maduro routine,” wrote Miguel Pizarro, a representative of Guaido’s interim governing administration. “We reiterate our willingness to obtain solutions to handle the crisis that Venezuelans put up with now.”

A community relations business representing the central bank’s legal professionals on Friday sent a letter that they reported was drafted by Guaido’s legal counsel Arnold & Porter that claims “our shoppers cannot consent” to a proposal by Maduro’s authorities to use the frozen money to make payments to Covax for the purpose of buying vaccines.

Reuters was unable to independently affirm the veracity of the letter.

Arnold & Porter did not respond to a ask for for remark.

Guaido’s interim govt, questioned for comment on the letter, referred Reuters to Thursday’s assertion.

The Maduro-aligned central financial institution has previously sought to accessibility the resources to aid combat the impacts of the coronavirus. The opposition stated in early January it experienced achieved a deal to take part in COVAX, a single of Gavi’s amenities to supply vaccines, but did not provide specifics.

Maduro has mentioned Venezuela will shortly obtain 10 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. The South American nation has described about 117,811 coronavirus instances and 1,084 fatalities.

Reporting by Vivian Sequera in Caracas, Creating by Corina Pons and Mayela Armas, Enhancing by Marguerita Choy, Grant McCool and Daniel Wallis