The Cape Verde Government can extradite Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman and a known ally of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, to the United States, a court has ruled.
Saab, who was a special envoy of the Venezuelan government, is facing money laundering charges for allegedly helping the Maduro’s government transfer around $350m (£257m) out of Venezuela.
He denies the charges. His lawyers also claimed the US arrest was political.
“Special Envoy Saab is the key figure for the U.S. in their plan to overthrow Nicolas Maduro and keep suffocating the Venezuelan people,” said a statement from Saab’s defense team, led by former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon.
Authorities in Cape Verde detained Alex Saab when his private jet stopped to refuel just after 8 p.m. on June 12, 2020, acting on an international arrest warrant for money laundering charges filed in 2019 in the United States.
The suspect is alleged to have designed schemes to provide the government of President Maduro with much-needed illicit cash flows in the face of US sanctions.
The US Justice Department accuse Saab of bribing Venezuelan officials to take advantage of the state-controlled exchange rate and transferring $350 million in illegally obtained funds to overseas accounts.
He is also charged with siphoning money from a government food aid scheme.
Although Mr Saab’s legal team have said they will appeal against the extradition, there are reports a US Justice Ministry plane may already be on its way.
The Madrid-based law firm representing Saab in Cape Verde said he was on a mission to Iran as a special envoy of Venezuelan President Maduro to negotiate fuel and humanitarian supplies at the time of his arrest.
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