Maduro Dealmaker Extradited to U.S. on Corruption Charges
(Bloomberg) -- A Colombian businessman close to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. Saturday to face money laundering charges.
Alex Saab was flown out of the archipelago nation off the West African coast on Saturday afternoon, his legal team said. “The extradition has been completed,” Femi Falana, a counsel for Saab, said by phone from Lagos. “We believe Saab’s being transported to Florida to stand trial.”
The Maduro administration called the extradition a “kidnapping” and said it will take further action as a sovereign nation.
Flight tracker Flightaware showed a plane belonging to the U.S. Justice Department leaving the Amilcar Cabral International Airport on the island of Sal at 4:53 p.m. local time on Saturday.
Saab, 49, has been detained in Cape Verde since June 2020, when his private plane stopped in Sal to refuel while flying from Venezuela to Iran.
A U.S. federal court in Florida has indicted him on money-laundering charges related to bribing Venezuelan officials. He has denied the charges through his lawyers.
The extradition also poses a risk for negotiations between the Venezuelan government and the opposition, which are set to restart Sunday in Mexico City. The government had appointed Saab as a member of its delegation to protect him from extradition.
“This crime also attempts to derail the development of the negotiations,” the Venezuelan government said in a statement posted on Twitter by Information Minister Freddy Ñañez.
His legal team previously said that as a Venezuelan envoy to Iran, Saab should not have been arrested in Cape Verde. The extradition took place on the eve of Cape Verde’s presidential elections scheduled for Oct. 17.
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