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Venezuelan envoy Alex Saab to be prosecuted in US court on money laundering charges

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Alex Saab, a businessman accused of laundering money on behalf of the Venezuelan government, will be arraigned Monday in a Florida federal court in a case that pits the United States against the illegitimate government of President Nicolás Maduro.

US prosecutors charged Saab in 2019 in relation to a bribery scheme linked to the exchange control system imposed by the State of Venezuela. The United States also sanctioned him for allegedly orchestrating a plan that allowed him and Maduro to benefit from a state food distribution program.

Following Saab’s extradition from Cape Verde to the United States on Saturday, the Venezuelan government announced that it was suspending its participation in the dialogues with opposition sectors, a round table that has been held in Mexico since August and was scheduled to resume at the weekend. .

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Following Saab’s extradition, authorities re-arrested six former executives of refiner Citgo, a US subsidiary of state oil company PDVSA, who had been under house arrest since April this year.

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

The group is made up of five naturalized US citizens and one permanent resident. The United States government has repeatedly demanded his release.

Saab, a Colombian national, was arrested in June 2020 when his plane stopped in Cape Verde to refuel. The country’s courts approved his extradition after a lengthy legal battle.

The Venezuelan government has accused the United States of kidnapping Saab, whom it describes as a diplomatic envoy heading to Iran to negotiate fuel and food supplies, which have been disrupted by US sanctions.

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