February 21, 2024

A US judge dropped seven of the eight charges against Maduro’s associate

A judge in the United States on Monday dropped seven of eight money-laundering charges against Colombian businessman Alex Chapp, the head of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The decision was made at the request of U.S. Attorney Kurt Lungenheimer, based on the businessman’s “assurances made to Cape Verde during the approval process,” which ended with Saab’s arrival in Miami on October 16. Saab still faces one charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Saab is the only person not named in the request, Colombian businessman Alvaro Pulido, who is currently on the run after being implicated in the same criminal proceedings.

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Prosecutors believe Saab and Pulido diverted $350 million in illegal proceeds in Venezuela to be laundered through the United States.

A poster calling for the release of Alex Chapp, who was arrested in Cape Verde and extradited to the US Photo: Federico PARRA / AFP

U.S. prosecutors say the two signed a contract with the Venezuelan government in November 2011 to build housing for low-income families.

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Using an exchange rate controlled by the Venezuelan authorities, they would have profited and executed the kickback scheme.

Saab has been sanctioned by the US Treasury Department since May 2019 for laundering money illegally obtained through the food subsidy system in Venezuela, and was arrested in Cape Verde in June 2020 on a warrant issued by Interpol.

Caracas was angered by the extradition of Saab, whom the Venezuelan opposition accuses of being a figurehead of President Nicolas Maduro.

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Maduro’s government, which granted the Colombian Venezuelan citizenship and ambassadorship, fought unsuccessfully to prevent the businessman from being taken to the United States. /AFP and EFE