CARACAS, April 24 Venezuela's central bank has
converted part of its gold reserves into at least $1 billion in
cash through a swap with Citibank, local media reported on
The deal will make more foreign currency available to
President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government as the OPEC
nation struggles with soaring consumer prices, chronic shortages
and a shrinking economy worsened by low oil prices.
Daily newspaper El Nacional said the deal was for $1 billion
and was struck with Citibank, which is owned by Citigroup Co
Former central bank director Jose Guerra and economist
Asdrubal Oliveros of Caracas-based consultancy Ecoanalitica said
in separate interviews that the operation had been carried out.
The central bank did not immediately respond to a request
for comments. A Citibank official said the company had no
A source at the central bank told Reuters last month it
would provide 1.4 million troy ounces of gold in exchange for
cash. Venezuela would have to pay interest on the funds, but the
bank would most likely be able to maintain the gold as part of
its foreign currency reserves.
Most of Venezuela's foreign reserves are held in gold after
late socialist leader Hugo Chavez began moving central bank
assets away from the dollar in the wake of the 2007-2009 global
(Reporting by Corina Pons and Brian Ellsworth; Writing by
Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Paul Simao)