RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - Lacking financial resources to spur the country's largest (and virtually its only) oil extraction industry, Venezuela swapped some 9 tons of gold with Iran in late April for Iranian technical assistance to its depleted refineries. As a result, Venezuela virtually scraped the bottom of its reserves, which had already been dwindling.

Now, the Venezuelan government is pressing the Central Bank of England to release €930 million in gold bars deposited in the institution's vaults. With a GDP drop of more than 60 percent in the past seven years since President Nicolás Maduro took . . .

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