Venezuelan envoy Alex Saab to be brought to justice in US court for money laundering

Oct. 18 (Reuters) – Alex Saab, a businessman accused of money laundering on behalf of the Venezuelan government, will be brought to justice on Monday in federal court in Florida in a case between the United States and the government of Venezuela. president Nicolas Maduro.

In 2019, U.S. prosecutors indicted Saab as part of a Venezuelan state-controlled exchange rate corruption program. The United States also sanctioned him for allegedly orchestrating a scheme that allowed him and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to profit from a state-run food distribution program.

Saab will appear by video conference before U.S. Magistrate Judge John J. O’Sullivan at 1:00 p.m. EDT (5:00 p.m. GMT) in Miami.

Venezuela announced on Saturday that it would suspend negotiations with the opposition which were to resume this weekend, following the extradition of Saab.

He also revoked the house arrest of six former executives of refiner Citgo, a US subsidiary of state-owned oil company PDVSA, two sources and a family member told Reuters.

Former Citgo executives, who were arrested in November 2017 after being summoned to a meeting at PDVSA’s headquarters in Caracas, were taken from their homes to one of the intelligence police headquarters, two reports said on Saturday. sources.

The group is made up of five naturalized US citizens and one permanent resident. The US government has repeatedly called for their release.

Saab, a Colombian national, was arrested in June 2020 when his plane stopped to refuel in Cape Verde.

Courts across the country have approved his extradition after a long legal battle.

The Venezuelan government has accused the United States of kidnapping Saab, which it describes as a diplomatic envoy en route to Iran to negotiate supplies of fuel and food that were cut short by US sanctions.

Washington created a massive sanctions program in 2019 to force Maduro out of power.

The sanctions crippled Venezuela’s ability to export fuel and limited its fuel imports, exacerbating an economic crisis brought on by years of hyperinflation and a continued deterioration of the country’s oil industry.

Reporting by Brian Ellsworth and Alexandra Ulmer Editing by Noeleen Walder and Alistair Bell

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