PRAIA.- The Cape Verde Justice has authorized the extradition to the United States of the Colombian businessman Álex Saab, accused of being figurehead of the Venezuelan ruler, Nicolás Maduro, confirmed today his lawyer, José Manuel Pinto Monteiro.
Saab was detained on June 12 when his plane stopped for refueling at Amilcar Cabral International Airport on the northern island of Sal (the most important in this West African island country), in response to a US request made through Interpol for alleged crimes of money laundering.
The Barlavento Court of Appeals, on the northern island of San Vicente, “approved the extradition” in a ruling “dated July 31,” he told Efe Pinto in statements in Praia, Cape Verde’s capital, on the southern island of Santiago.
“We were notified (the judicial resolution) yesterday afternoon. We have ten days to file an appeal (appeal),” the lawyer stressed, specifying that “Mr. Álex Saab was notified today.”
The Government of Cape Verde already approved last month the delivery of the alleged figurehead to the United States, although the final decision corresponded to the Barlavento Court of Appeals, which has come to endorse the ruling of the Executive.
The president in charge, Juan Guaidó, reacted to the arrest of Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman who was supposedly a front man for the Maduro government, and with whom he was presumed to have washed more than 350 million dollars.
After the businessman’s arrest, officials from the Maduro regime said that Saab is a Venezuelan citizen and a “agent” of the Government, who was “in transit” in Cape Verde to return to the country.
The defense argues that “he had the right to personal inviolability as a special envoy from Venezuela in transit through Cape Verde.”
Saab’s name appeared in the press when former Venezuelan prosecutor Luisa Ortega accused him in 2017 of being one of Maduro’s figureheads.
Saab, born in the Colombian city of Barranquilla and of Lebanese origin, is related to several companies, including Group Grand Limited (GGL), accused of supplying surcharges to the Maduro regime with food and supplies for the government’s Local Supply and Production Committees (CLAP).
A US government official indicated in July 2019 that with the CLAPs, which are delivered to the poorest, the Colombian businessman and three stepsons from Maduro profited, apparently, with “hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Washington also filed charges against Saab and his right-hand man, Álvaro Enrique Pulido, whom he accuses of laundering up to $ 350 million allegedly defrauded through the exchange control system in Venezuela.
According to the US, between November 2011 and September 2015, Saab and Pulido conspired with each other to launder their illicit profits and transfer them from Venezuela to US bank accounts, which is why Washington has jurisdiction in the case.
US Attorney General William Barr made the announcement.