Venezuela wins lawsuit in Portugal, recovers frozen assets worth over 1.5 billion USD

The assets had been frozen in a Portuguese bank since 2019. They were intended for the purchase of medicines, food products and other essential supplies for the country

August 10, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Photo: PSUV/Twitter

The government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, led by President Nicolás Maduro, won a lawsuit filed against the Portuguese bank Novo Banco in Lisbon and recovered more than USD 1.5 billion of assets that had been frozen in the European country’s bank since 2019, reported Venezuelan Foreign Minister Yvan Gil on August 9.

The District Court of Lisbon, Portugal, declared the judicial appeal filed by the Venezuelan government well-founded and, consequently, ordered Novo Banco to immediately release the money belonging to various Venezuelan public entities.

The Lisbon Court’s ruling marked the latest victory of the Bolivarian Republic and its people against unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States and frozen funds across international banks. 

Foreign Minister Gil welcomed the resolution, deeming it “the result of a long battle and above all of the resistance of the Venezuelan people and the government of Nicolás Maduro, who do not allow themselves to be subdued by threats from imperialism and coup attempts.”

In April 2019, President Maduro condemned the Novo bank for having seized the country’s USD 1.726 billion in assets, which were intended for the purchase of medicines, food products and other essential supplies for the citizens. He called on the government of Portugal to speak out against the issue.

The Novo bank is based in Lisbon, Portugal, however, 75% of its shares are owned by Lone Star Funds, a US private equity firm. The Maduro government denounced the withholding of funds as part of the US maximum pressure campaign against it.

The ruling came almost nine months after the Maduro government and the platform of the far-right opposition sectors signed an agreement to create a United Nations-administered USD 3 billion fund using the frozen money in international accounts due to the US sanctions to back health, education, food and other public services in Venezuela. The USD 1.5 billion tied up in the Novo Banco account was meant to kick off the fund.

The dialogue and negotiation process between the Maduro government and the US-backed opposition has been paralyzed since November 2022. In May 2023, President Maduro reported that the resources had yet to be made available to the country, stressing that the resumption of negotiations requires “full compliance” of previous agreements between the two parties.