Caracas - The Venezuelan leader is hopping mad at reports that repatriation of the country's 211.35 tons of gold bullion has got off to an inauspicious start.
The overnight 'disappearance' of HMS Iron Pyrites, a refurbished former Royal Navy sub charged with delivering the first consignment, has seen River Thames Police patrols scour the Thames Estuary off Gravesend.
The craft had been ordered to set sail under cover of Monday night's new moon amid astrological advice from Mrs Chavez's personal bullion dealer.
But its GPS tracking signal went off radar around 4am amid fears it sank under the sheer weight of the vast payload.
Bank of England sources said this morning the sub's hiring for the high security operation had been personally ordered by the Venezuelan President after London embassy officials turned down an initial offer of a former Navy destroyer as 'too much in-yer-face' for the tricky trip.
Last week President Chavez nationalised his country's gold mining industry as the precious metal soared to over $1,800 per pounce - er...ounce!.
Furious phone exchanges with Bank of England Governor Sir Mervyn Bling - er...King! - today have seen Chavez threaten to dispatch the Armada Nacional Bolivariana de Venezuela's
flagship missile frigate the General Salóm to take charge of the Thames Estuary search.
"It could be Somalian pirate highjackers," a Venezuelan legation source commented, "London's got plenty masquerading as asylum-seeking bona fides."