The authorities in Cape Verde have formally accepted the extradition process of the Colombian Alex Saab, who is accused of being the figurehead of the dictator Nicolás Maduro.
« Last week, all the documents were translated and Cape Verde already notified the United States that it accepted the extradition process, which will be resolved in the coming days.« A federal source told the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.
While the defense of the Colombian figurehead may appeal Cape Verde’s decision, the White House believes Saab’s extradition. In the United States, he is accused of the crimes of laundering and corruption.
The Colombian businessman was arrested in Cape Verde on June 12, when the private plane in which he was traveling stopped in the African country to refuel, within the framework of what the Venezuelan regime described as a humanitarian mission.. However, the objective of his trip was to continue negotiations with the Iranian regime to send more fuel to Venezuela.
In the African island country, Saab’s lawyers unsuccessfully contested – using « Habeas Corpus » resources – his arrest on an international arrest warrant, indicated those sources, who spoke under anonymity. Saab also sought to be placed under house arrest instead of being held in a prison, but that request was also denied, one of the people said.
Maduro’s alleged front man was accused in July 2019 of bribing Venezuelan officials and channeling more than $ 350 million to foreign accounts as part of a subsidized food program.
He is also suspected of helping Maduro organize an exchange with Iran as part of a plan that has brought oil, workers and supplies to Venezuela in exchange for some 9 tons of gold worth $ 500 million.. Last month, Saab’s lawyer denied that his client was involved in the events and described him as a « food business entrepreneur. »
Saab was an integral part of a successful effort to strengthen Venezuela’s relationship with Turkey, with shipments of at least $ 900 million in gold to the country in 2018. US officials maintain that some of the metal reached Tehran in violation of penalties.
Venezuela’s foreign ministry said in a statement that Saab was in Cape Verde on a stopover, as part of a mission to purchase food for the regime’s subsidy program, as well as medications for the coronavirus pandemic, and his arrest is part of the « persecution and aggression of the United States against the Venezuelan people. »
In an unusual 2017 interview with Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, Saab described himself as « an open book » and denied being involved in corrupt contracts with Venezuela. « My accounts are clear and my conscience is clear, » said the Colombian businessman at the time.
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