Above Photo: Street view of a branch of Portuguese bank Novo Banco.
Venezuelan authorities have announced that Portuguese courts have ruled in favor of Venezuela and ordered Novo Banco to return $1.5 billion illegally seized from accounts belonging to the Venezuelan government, following the failed 2019 US-led regime change operation that attempted to oust President Nicolás Maduro.
“Breaking news: the Bolivarian [Venezuelan] government wins trial and recovers its assets in Portugal,” wrote the Venezuelan minister for communication and information, Freddy Ñáñez, officially disclosing Portugal’s judiciary decision via social media this Wednesday, August 9. “$1.5 billion were released by Novo Banco.”
The ruling, issued by the Lisbon District Court, also ordered Novo Banco “to pay the respective late payment interest, due and payable, calculated at the legal rate for commercial operations (7% per annum), from the date the first blocked transfer was reported.”
Novo Banco was also further ordered to pay mandatory legal interest at the annual rate of 5% from the final and unappealable judgment until full payment, reads the ruling.
When consulted in a Union Radio interview on this new development, the Venezuelan analyst Luis Vicente León noted firstly, that this is a victory for Nicolas Maduro administration; and secondly, that primary or secondary US sanctions may still present difficulties for Novo Banco to fulfil its obligations in initiating a financial transaction with the Venezuelan Central Bank.
Illegally frozen assets
Since 2015, Venezuela has been a victim of US and Western imperialism, exacerbated in 2019 when the US-led Juan Guaidó regime change operation was launched. According to the Venezuelan Observatory on Sanctions, the country has—between the years of 2019 and 2022—had $7 billion illegally frozen in liquid assets (bank accounts) in foreign banks.
In 2019, at the height of Western interference, President Maduro had requested the government of Portugal to rule on the seizure of more than $1.7 billion, a sum destined to the purchase of medicines and food. The sum was bigger that the one agreed upon in the court ruling.
“I ask the government of Portugal to make a statement,” the head of state had said. “There are $1.7 billion dollars seized by Novo Banco in Portugal, that were for the purchase of medicines, food, and supplies,” he noted.