A Cape Verde court ruled that Alex Saab, can be held under house arrest while he tries to fight an extradition request to face corruption charges in South Florida. Earlier this month, the Cape Verdean Court of Appeals of Barlavento approved a U.S. request to extradite Saab to South Florida.

Saab, born in Colombia of Lebanese descent, has been linked to several companies, including Group Grand Limited, accused of running a corruption scheme through a food aid program known locally as CLAP, run by the Venezuela’s President Maduro regime. Saab, along with Maduro’s stepsons, embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars through the government program, said the U.S. prosecutors. They said that he laundered up to $350 million along with his associate, Alvaro Enrique Pulido. They also accused Saab of being a front man for Maduro. The Colombian newspaper El Tiempo reported on 14 September 2020 that U.S. authorities froze about $700 million from Saab’s accounts located in the European Principality of Liechtenstein.

He was arrested while he was carrying a letter from Maduro accrediting him to Iran’s supreme leader. He went to Iran to negotiate deals to exchange Venezuelan gold for Iranian gasoline. The U.S. government has sanctioned trade with Iran and Venezuela.

The Trump administration, at one point sent a Navy warship to the African archipelago to keep an eye on Saab and discourage any plans by Venezuela to try to sneak him out of jail.

As of October 2018, he was being investigated by Colombian authorities for alleged money laundering, due to his relationship with the Venezuelan government between 2004 and 2011. CNN reported on 17 October 2020 that The Colombian Office of the Attorney General seized assets valued at $9.8 million from Saab. The report also said that authorities seized two properties in Barranquilla and Cartagena and three companies that Saab used for money laundering.

Source: Miami Herald and Dialogo