Alex Saab, the businessman linked to the Maduro government, “was an informant for the DEA”
Photo: REUTERS / Courtesy
He is considered a key ally of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and was also reportedly an “active” collaborator with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Court documents released this Wednesday in the United States indicate that Colombian businessman Alex Saab, who is detained in Miami, where he is facing trial for money laundering, collaborated with the US authorities for a period of almost 12 months beginning in 2018, offering information about his “criminal activity” and giving money to the DEA as part of a deal that was to culminate in his voluntary surrender to face the charges.
According to those documents, the Colombian businessman admitted that “that had paid bribes to government officials ggovernment from Venezuela in relation to the contracts awarded to provide food to Venezuela“.
It is also indicated that in 2016 he met in Bogotá with FBI and DEA agents, to whom he would have provided information about the alleged contracts of their companies with the Maduro government to “build social housing.”
These documents had remained sealed until now at the request of the Prosecutor’s Office and were now revealed in the framework of the trial that is being carried out against Saab.
The Colombian businessman is accused of allegedly conspiring to commit money laundering, a crime for which he has pleaded “not guilty.”
A alleged ally of Maduro
Since Saab was arrested in Cape Verde in June 2020, the government of Nicolás Maduro has taken numerous steps to try to stop his extradition to the United States.
Thus, Caracas said that Saab had obtained Venezuelan citizenship and appointed him, in December 2020, as Venezuela’s ambassador to the African Union.
Later, in September 2021, the Maduro government announced its intention to incorporate Saab as a delegate of the official commission that was negotiating a solution to the Venezuelan political crisis in Mexico with the opposition.
Saab, however, continued to be detained in Cape Verde and once he was extradited to the United States in October of that year, the Maduro government decided to leave the negotiating table in protest.
The revelation that Saab was collaborating with the DEA has been widely interpreted as a blow to the Maduro government.
However, David Rivkin, the Colombian businessman’s lawyer in the United States, said in a statement that the Venezuelan government was aware of Saab’s meetings with US officials and that these only had the purpose of clarifying that their companies had not incurred in any improper action.
“Saab remains a loyal citizen and diplomat of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and will never do anything that harms the interests of the country and the people who have given it so much,” Rivkin said in the statement.
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