Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) and the United States are probing a suspected gold-for-cash scheme in which Libya’s strongman Khalifa Haftar is purportedly supplying US dollars to Nicolas Maduro’s regime in Venezuela which is cut off from the international oil trade by strict US sanctions in exchange for gold.
The US, European and Libyan security officials told the Wall Street Journal, “The Libyan government, with the help of the United Nations and the US, has been tracking Mr Haftar’s private jet, which is suspected of carrying gold from Venezuela to West Africa, and from there to Europe and the Middle East.”
As per the WSJ report, Libyan and European security officials told the Journal, “Haftar’s associates had airlifted dollars to Caracas due to fears that his accounts could be frozen if he comes under sanctions”. The Libyan government, backed by the UN and aided by the US, prefers to be in possession of gold, the WSJ quoted a confidential European security source as saying.
Speaking in a press call last month, David Schenker, Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Bureau at the State Department said the allegations were concerning and added that U.S. and United Nations sanctions applied to those exporting Libyan oil outside legal auspices of Libya’s National Oil Corporation.
Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) is fighting in the civil war against Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) since 2014 while Nicolas Maduro’s regime in Venezuela is cut off from the international oil trade by strict US sanctions.
Out of cash and desperate for help in propping up its oil industry Maduro regime has turned to “payment via gold”. Iran and Khalifa Haftar are latest beneficiaries of the same after the US crackdown on deals that the Nicolas Maduro regime was conducting with Russia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.