Venezuela Central Bank Confronts Growing Discontent

(Bloomberg) -- As Nicolas Maduro struggles to hold onto power and speculation swirls that the regime is trying plunder Venezuela’s gold reserves, the crisis is also playing out within the halls of the central bank itself: staffers are waging a small mutiny and refusing to sign-off on key bank transactions.

Some staff members received early retirement offers Friday after disregarding orders from upper management, according to four people with direct knowledge of the matter. Tensions inside the bank are brewing, as staffers fret about potential repercussions of signing off on certain operations and discontent bubbles over as Venezuela’s economic and political outlook deteriorates.

Venezuela Central Bank Confronts Growing Discontent

A press official for the central bank declined to comment.

Attempts by President Maduro to repatriate $1.2 billion of gold from the Bank of England and plans to ship 20 tons of the metal abroad for cash have been stymied in the past several weeks, bringing Banco Central de Venezuela’s $8.4 billion of reserves under international scrutiny. The U.S. and more than a dozen countries have condemned Maduro as illegitimate and backed National Assembly President Juan Guaido in his attempt at pushing for regime change and new free and fair elections.

Venezuela Central Bank Confronts Growing Discontent

Guaido has called on the military and government workers to abandon Maduro in order to help form a transition government. While few have heeded the call domestically, some diplomats have broken ranks at embassies and consulates in the U.S. and beyond.

Venezuela Central Bank Confronts Growing Discontent

While central bank jobs were once highly sought after by Venezuelans with degrees in economics and statistics, rising political tensions and shrinking wages have reduced most teams to bare bones. Protests among workers complaining about increased workloads and lacking salary adjustment have become increasingly common.

The monetary authority no longer publishes most economic data publicly after the executive branch clamped down on transparency amid Venezuela’s worst-ever economic downturn.

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