Photo: El Nacional
WASHINGTON – Alex Nain Saab Moran (Saab), 47, a Colombian citizen, will make his initial appearance in federal court in Miami, Florida, today after being extradited from the Republic of Cabo Verde.
Saab is charged in an indictment with laundering the proceeds of violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in connection with a scheme to pay bribes to take advantage of Venezuela’s government-controlled exchange rate. He is expected to make his initial court appearance today at 1:00 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge John J. O’Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Specifically, on July 25, 2019, Saab was charged along with Alvaro Pulido Vargas, aka German Enrique Rubio Salas, 55, also a Colombian citizen, in an eight-count indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and seven counts of money laundering. The indictment alleges that beginning in or around November 2011 and continuing until at least September 2015, Saab and Pulido conspired with others to launder the proceeds of an illegal bribery scheme from bank accounts located in Venezuela to and through bank accounts located in the United States.
According to the indictment, Saab and Pulido obtained a contract with the Venezuelan government in November 2011 to build low-income housing units. The defendants and their co-conspirators then took advantage of Venezuela’s government-controlled exchange rate, under which U.S. dollars could be obtained at a favorable rate, by submitting false and fraudulent import documents for goods and materials that were never imported into Venezuela and bribing Venezuelan government officials to approve those documents. The indictment alleges that the unlawful activity was a bribery scheme that violated the FCPA and involved bribery offenses against Venezuela.
It also alleges that meetings in furtherance of the bribe payments occurred in Miami and that Saab and Pulido wired money related to the scheme to bank accounts in the Southern District of Florida. As a result of the scheme, Saab and Pulido transferred approximately $350 million out of Venezuela, through the United States, to overseas accounts they owned or controlled.
On June 12, 2020, Saab was detained in the Republic of Cabo Verde, an archipelago nation west of continental Africa, at the request of the United States. The United States thereafter submitted a formal extradition request, which Saab opposed. On March 16, the Cabo Verdean Supreme Court approved the extradition of Saab.
After further litigation concerning Saab’s detention and extradition between Saab’s lawyers and the Cabo Verdean Attorney General’s Office, on Aug. 30, the Constitutional Court of Cabo Verde dismissed his appeal; and on Oct. 13, it denied the last reconsideration request by Saab and certified the completion of the proceedings concerning the extradition of Saab to the United States. The Minister of Justice of Cabo Verde then ordered his surrender, consistent with the court orders, resulting in Saab’s arrival in the United States on Oct. 16.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez for the Southern District of Florida, and Acting Special Agent in Charge La Verne J. Hibbert of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Miami Field Office made the announcement.
Assistant Attorney General Polite and Acting U.S. Attorney Gonzalez commended and thanked the Government of the Republic of Cabo Verde for their assistance in the extradition of Saab to the United States. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided substantial assistance in securing Saab’s arrest and extradition, as did INTERPOL Washington.
This case was investigated by DEA Miami with assistance from the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Homeland Security Investigation’s Miami Field Office. FBI’s International Operations Division transported Saab from Cabo Verde to the United States.
Trial Attorney Alexander Kramer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kurt K. Lunkenheimer of the Southern District of Florida are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.