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Venezuelan President Maduro's close aide extradited to US

One of President Nicolás Maduro’s clos­est aides has been extra­dit­ed from Cape Verde to the United States, where he’s been charged with mon­ey laundering.

Saab was charged with mon­ey laun­der­ing in the US

The US Treasury says Alex Saab worked as a front man for Mr Maduro’s regime.

The Venezuelan gov­ern­ment sus­pend­ed talks soon after­wards with the US-backed opposition.

The talks were to resolve a polit­i­cal cri­sis that has led to vio­lence and the col­lapse of the economy.

The dis­cus­sions had been due to resume this week­end in Mexico.

The US Treasury accus­es Mr Saab — a Colombian-born busi­ness­man and Venezuelan envoy — of using his accounts in American banks to laun­der the pro­ceeds of corruption.

He was detained in June last year as his plane made a stopover to refu­el in Cape Verde.

Mr Saab said he was trav­el­ling on an offi­cial mis­sion to obtain med­ical sup­plies to deal with the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic. He denies all the charges and says they are polit­i­cal­ly motivated.

The Venezuelan gov­ern­ment has accused the US of kid­nap­ping diplo­mat­ic per­son­nel and announced the sus­pen­sion in nego­ti­a­tions with the oppo­si­tion that were set to resume this weekend.

Mr Saab was due to be a mem­ber of the gov­ern­men­t’s nego­ti­at­ing team in talks with the oppo­si­tion in Mexico.

The sus­pen­sion of talks was announced by rul­ing Socialist par­ty leg­is­la­tor Jorge Rodriguez, who heads the gov­ern­men­t’s nego­ti­at­ing team.

Mr Rodriguez called the deci­sion “an expres­sion of our deep­est protest against the bru­tal aggres­sion” against Mr Saab.

Mr Saab is accused of mak­ing large amounts of mon­ey from over­val­ued con­tracts, as well as from Venezuela’s gov­ern­ment-set exchange rate and cen­tralised sys­tem of import and dis­tri­b­u­tion of basic foods.

Venezuela has faced chron­ic short­ages of food and med­i­cine as a result of years of polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic crisis.

Venezuela’s oppo­si­tion has described Mr Saab as a front­man doing shady deals for the pop­ulist social­ist regime of Mr Maduro.

Colombian President Ivan Duque tweet­ed that Mr Saab’s extra­di­tion was “a tri­umph in the fight against drug traf­fick­ing, mon­ey laun­der­ing and cor­rup­tion by the dic­ta­tor­ship of Nicolas Maduro”.

Original source: BBC

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