Alex Naim Saab’s star began to fade on July 25, 2019, that day the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury sanctioned the Colombian-Venezuelan citizen as organizer of a corruption and money laundering network in favor of Venezuelan Nicolás Maduro and his regime. However, the definitive collapse of Saab occurred when he was arrested in Cape Verde on June 12, 2020, while he was traveling to Tehran to close deals to exchange Venezuelan gold for Iranian oil.
Today Saab is being held in a US federal prison, He is accused of taking benefits in 22 overvalued contracts, repeated fraud and aggravated by having been committed with the Venezuelan government’s food program known as Local Supply and Production Committees (CLAP). The chain of illicit crimes he is accused of refers to an oiled network of shell companies with which he laundered hundreds of millions of dollars from the corruption of the Chavista regime using the financial and banking system of the United States and of several countries around the world.
In the same case, the US federal justice also investigates the 3 stepchildren of Nicolás Maduro (Walter, Yoswal and Yosser), who received money from Saab in exchange for contracts favored by the government of his stepfather. What’s more, Saab established alliances with regime officials such as Tarek El-Aissami and Diosdado Cabello to administer a wide criminal network that he used criminally harming the deprived population of Venezuela. Treasury officials also target several officials who are behind Maduro’s corruption networks and the structure of shell companies benefiting from illegal businesses controlled by the Bolivarian armed forces. Corruption in the CLAP program allowed Maduro and his family members to steal hundreds of millions of dollars for their own benefit. In that operation, it is suspected that Saab laundered millions of dollars for the regime in Miami and New York, violating US federal laws.
Three years after being sanctioned by OFAC and when the United States has just published a millionaire reward for information that leads to the arrest of Álvaro Pulido, the Saab partner, Officials of the agencies in charge of the investigation in Florida against the figurehead of the Caribbean dictator begin to handle new names of politicians and officials of various Latin American governments as likely involved in the criminal networks of Saab and the Venezuelan regime.
Former Colombian Senator Piedad Córdoba is one of the names involved with the illegal activities of Saab, Córdoba was the person who presented him at the Miraflores Palace, so the leftist leader may be subject to a request by the US justice, the same could happen with the former – Presidents Ollanta Humala (President of Peru between 2011 and 2016) and Evo Morales Ayma (President of Bolivia between 2006 and 2019). Meanwhile, Alex Saab will continue to be detained in the United States by order of Judge John O ‘Sullivan who denied him the benefit of bail.
The Saab situation generates well-founded unrest in the Caribbean regime. “Not only in Caracas should they be concerned; several former leaders of Latin American countries should be attentive to what happens to him, “a source from the Florida FBI office told Infobae who requested anonymity.. Alex Saab must answer for the crime of money laundering for hundreds of millions of dollars using the financial and banking system of the United States, which constitutes a serious violation of federal law and places him facing a sentence of between 20 to 25 years from prison in an American jail.
Given that Saab also has Colombian nationality, this week the Florida judicial authorities began to work together with the Colombian courts, which are also investigating him for the same crimes and for real competition that includes money laundering and aggravated scams. Saab’s criminal record began in the late 1990s, when together with Cynthia Ospina (his first wife) he founded the textile company Shatex, which according to the Colombian Attorney General’s Office, laundered assets for more than US $ 2,000 million to the government of the late President Hugo Chaves Frías between 2004 and 2011. According to the investigation of the Colombian justice system, it did so through false foreign trade operations that were concentrated in Venezuela, where there was a preferential dollar exchange system due to the constant devaluation of the bolivar, that system was controlled by a regime body called the National Foreign Exchange Administration Commission (CAVIDI). Several local and foreign companies used the system to quadruple profits through fictitious exports for millions of dollars.
However, in mid-2009, there was a crisis between President Chávez and Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, as a result, Venezuela stopped paying Colombian suppliers, Saab was one of those affected, some US $ 28 million of its companies were frozen by Caracas. At that time Saab met Piedad Córdoba – at that time a candidate backed by Chavez for the presidency of Colombia – who helped him manage the payments, Saab was able to collect his money and was very well connected with the Chavez regime for which he began to work as name-loan, that was the step to big business that allowed him to become a billionaire. However, today Saab has lost all its assets in Colombia, after its arrest in Cape Verde, the Colombian justice subjected all its assets and properties to extinction of domain for figures several times million in Bogotá and in Barranquilla, its city of origin. .
More reports from judicial officials and Colombian anti-drug agencies were sent this week to their US counterparts, there the operation of the criminal networks that Saab ran, but also the identities of a number of people involved not only in Venezuela and Colombia, there are also names from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Iran, Italy, Mexico, China, Peru, Turkey, Russia, United Arab Emirates , Bahamas and Panama. In some way, that information is a strength that can provide reassurance to Saab’s weak position, which knows secrets that concern not only Maduro, but also dozens of politicians and businessmen from the aforementioned countries, where Saab’s footprint is plagued by relationships with which it developed illegal activities and businesses related to government corruption, mainly in financial operations of money laundering and fraud against various international financial systems.
Saab’s current position is very compromised, his legal situation offers him few alternatives, his thing is summarized in jail for many years or to benefit from the program of collaboration with the American justice. However, during his detention in Cape Verde, while his extradition was being processed, he had unofficial conversations that could be considered as a predisposition to collaborate with the Treasury authorities and with the US anti-drug agency (DEA); But Saab and his lawyers did not consider that once his extradition was carried out, his current wife (the Italian Camila Fabri) and his two young daughters would be held in Venezuela under “the care” of the dictator Maduro. This situation radically changed the scenario for Saab as well as for the US authorities, who awaited his collaboration without the conditioning generated by the stay of his wife and daughters in Caracas, who today are considered hostages of Nicolás Maduro.
Another case of political turbulence in Latin America due to the arrest of Saab is taking place in Brazil, where several officials who made up the government of former president Lula are concerned about what Saab can make known to the United States justice. The same happens in Bolivia with former president Evo Morales. While in the Miraflores Palace, the virtual kidnapping in which Saab’s wife and daughters are found is the reinsurance that Maduro has so that his front man remains silent.
Between Monday and Tuesday of this week, federal authorities have shown Saab and his lawyer the enormous amount of evidence against him. Faced with the burden of proof that was exhibited to him, he knows that he has no legal escape. Investigators checked each and every one of its operations inside and outside the United States for the last 5 years, the evidence is overwhelming. What remains to be known is what the inmate’s behavior will be and whether he will collaborate or not. The source consulted by Infobae unofficially indicated that he was given 30 days to define his position to collaborate with justice. Saab knows that if he chooses to keep quiet to preserve the integrity of his wife and daughters, he would spend many, many years in prison before he sees them again. Although it is speculated that he may ask the United States to remove his young daughters and his wife from Venezuela in exchange for collaborating with the investigation, with this he could access certain benefits for himself and his family.
Nobody like Saab knows each and every one of Maduro’s illegal businesses. Therefore, in a show of fear that Saab will speak, Maduro himself described the extradition of the Colombian as a kidnapping and an abuse of US imperialism. However, what worries the Caribbean dictator is that Saab has been his most important president in recent years in dozens of crimes, including drug trafficking, the purchase of vehicles for the agro-livestock industry from Brazil and Argentina, the acquisition of satellite technology systems with Russia and China and the sale of illegally mined gold to Iran in exchange for oil and missile systems.
The federal authorities have no doubts that the socialism of the 21st century – established by Hugo Chavez and continued by Nicolás Maduro – travels a winding path in the face of information and secrets handled by Saab, and there are several Venezuelan opposition officials who believe that the The success of the investigation in the Saab case may be the turning point that will lead to the fall of the Chavista dictatorship.