Colombian businessman Alex Saab has been arrested whilst the private jet he was flying in was refuelling in the African island republic of Cape Verde.
His arrest may well concern an ally of his, Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro, because investigators in Miami want to extradite the Colombian to the US to face federal money-laundering charges accusing him of bribing Venezuelan government officials and funnelling more than US$350 million into overseas accounts.
Gold for oil deals
“Alex Saab is the master of trade-based money laundering, and Venezuela has been robbed blind with every transaction that he does,” according to a former Miami prosecutor, Dick Gregorie, who was involved in earlier investigations into Saab’s activities.
Investigators in the US believe Saab has been facilitating deals to exchange Venezuelan gold for Iranian gasoline and other oil products in clear violation of several international sanctions.
US authorities also say that the Colombian has been involved for many years with the Iranian backed Lebanese Shia group, Hezbollah, which is designated by the US as a terrorist organisation, and allegedly runs extensive TBML operations in the Americas.
Investigators in the US also believe Saab is responsible for orchestrating the abuse of a humanitarian scheme excepted from US sanctions imposed on Venezuela with the aim of providing impoverished Venezuelans with essentials, including food.
Saab denies US allegations that he was the ringleader of the embezzlement, bribery and currency manipulation involved in that scheme.
The US wants to extradite Saab from Cape Verde to face trial, probably in Miami, but without an extradition treaty with the US, it will be up to the authorities in the Atlantic island state to decide on where Saab will go next.
Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News