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DENIED: Bank of England Refuses to Release Venezuelan Gold

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“Whoever has the gold makes the rules,” the King famously said in 1964’s comic strip, The Wizard of Id. England is proving the old truism to be accurate. Keynes’ “barbarous relic” is showing tremendous staying power in a world awash in cryptocurrencies and virtual wealth.

Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands have all repatriated gold reserves in recent years, and they can now count Venezuela among the countries attempting to do the same. Venezuela’s government made the decision to repatriate 14 tons of gold bars on the heels of U.S. sanctions. The custodian, the Bank of England, has refused to release the gold, worth a total sum of US$ 550 million, to Caracas. The British are citing anti-money laundering regulations. The specific concern is that Nicolas Maduro may personally seize the gold and use it for personal gain. Washington’s new rules for Venezuela target the country’s gold exports, based on reports of Maduro spending the country’s current precious metals illegally. Venezuela’s economy collapsed when oil revenue plunged. Supplies of food, medicine, and consumer staples were affected. Shortages and hyperinflation have resulted.

National Security Advisor to the United States, John Bolton, labeled Venezuela a member of a “troika of tyranny,” along with Cuba and Nicaragua. Bolton railed against the “triangle of terror stretching from Havana to Caracas to Managua.” He called it “the cause of immense human suffering, the impetus of enormous regional instability, and the genesis of a sordid cradle of communism in the Western Hemisphere,” Cuba has been accused of assisting the Maduro government. “The Cuban military and intelligence agencies must not disproportionately profit from the United States, its people, its travelers, or its businesses,” Bolton declared. For its part, Nicaragua is in hot water due to a violent crisis that sprung up when President Daniel Ortega announced that there would be changes coming to Nicaragua’s social security system. The U.S. is pushing for free elections.

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White House Nominates Heath Tarbert for CFTC Chairman

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The White House announced Heath P. Tarbert will be nominated to serve as Commissioner and Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Tarbert currently serves as Assistant Secretary for International Markets at the U.S. Treasury Department. Before joining the U.S. Treasury, Tarbert was a Partner at law firm Allen & Overy. Tarbert was confirmed by the U.S. Senate for his current Treasury post at 87 (yes) to 8 (no).

Upon Senate confirmation, Tarbert’s CFTC term would start on April 14, 2019 and last for five years. Tarbert is taking over from J. Christopher Giancarlo whose term ends in April 2019. Tarbert will need a U.S. Senate confirmation to take the head CFTC post.

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KIA Could Sell Stake in North Sea Energy Business

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The Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA), through its unit Wren House Investment Management, is nearing a deal to sell a 40% stake in its North Sea energy business to JPMorgan Asset Management. In July 2018, KIA closed on a deal to acquire oil and gas pipeline firm North Sea Midstream Partners from ArcLight Capital.

More details to follow –

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Pensioenfonds PGB Hires BMO Global for Equity Protection Strategy

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Pensioenfonds PGB is a Dutch multi-sector pension fund. PGB awarded a mandate to implement a protection strategy for its €12 billion equity portfolio to BMO Global Asset Management. PGB is a €26.5 billion fund. PGB has been using BMO Global’s responsible engagement overlay since 2017.

The Chief Investment Officer of PGB is Harold Clijsen.

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