Alex Saab

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Alex Saab
Born
Alex Nain Saab Morán

(1971-12-21) December 21, 1971 (age 49)
NationalityColombian
CitizenshipVenezuelan[1]
Antiguan[2]
OccupationBusinessman
Known forClose relationship with the Venezuelan government of President Nicolás Maduro

Alex Nain Saab Morán (Arabic: أليكس صعب‎; born 21 December 1971)[3] is a Colombian-born businessman[4] of Lebanese descent[5] mentioned in the Panama Papers, who has also been mentioned in journalistic investigations for conducting businesses with an estimated amount of US$135 million with the Venezuelan government,[6] unlike other Colombian businessmen who had to stop exporting to Venezuela, due to uncertainty regarding the payments and currency controls.[7] Saab's name also appears in the FinCEN Files.[8]

As of October 2018, he is being investigated by Colombian authorities for alleged money laundering, due to his relationship with the Venezuelan government between 2004 and 2011. During the course of these investigations, his fiscal and accounting reviewer have been arrested and charged by the prosecutors office.[9]

During a fuel stop at Cape Verde, Alex Saab was arrested while on his way from Iran to Venezuela on a business jet on 12 June 2020. Saab was arrested in accordance to an Interpol red notice in relation to his indictment in United States, accused of money laundering.[10][11]

Career[edit]

Alex Saab is the son of a Lebanese immigrant who settled in the city of Barranquilla and opened various businesses, finding success in Colombia’s textile industry.[12]

Saab began his career in Barranquilla, selling business promotion keychains and subsequently work uniforms;[13] eventually Saab was mixing between a group of recognized Colombian businessmen and ended up exporting merchandise to Venezuela, using the CADIVI currency system, in which he had free capital mobility.[14] According to a Univisión source, during this time Saab accumulated millionaire debts after the suspension of foreign exchange payments by the Venezuelan government, which in turn alleged that some businessmen in the country had cheated the Cadivi system for a millionaire sum. Saab was not accused of such fraud. Univisión has also mentioned that his journalist Gerardo Reyes was sued by the businessman following these publications.[15]

Saab was also enriched due to the materials supplier business of the Housing Mission in Venezuela. On 28 November 2011, the Colombian-Venezuelan agreement of the Global Construction Fund was signed, whose legal representative was Saab, which resulted in a contract of US$685 million for the construction of prefabricated homes in Venezuela,[13] while the organization was being investigated by the Ecuadorian government for alleged money laundering through false exports to Venezuela. The event was attended by presidents Juan Manuel Santos and Hugo Chávez, as was the then Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro. Saab's lawyer, Abelardo De La Espriella, assured La W Radio at the time that the headquarters of the Global Construction Fund in Ecuador had no connection with the Colombian businessman.[14]

Investigations[edit]

Saab has sold food to Venezuela for more than US$200 million in a negotiation signed by President Nicolás Maduro through a registered company in Hong Kong, China.[16] On 23 August 2017, the Venezuelan attorney general, Luisa Ortega Díaz, named Alex Saab as the owner of the Mexican firm Group Grand Limited, 26 along with Colombian businessmen Álvaro Pulido and Rofolfo Reyes, "presumably President Nicolás Maduro" and dedicated to selling food to the CLAP.[17] Saab would have met Álvaro Pulido in 2012, when he was dedicated to supplying the Saab company, but this activity would have stopped doing it in 2014.[18]

Censorship[edit]

On 11 September 2018, the National Commission of Telecommunications (CONATEL) of Venezuela banned the publication of information about Alex Saab to the journalists of the Armando.info web portal, who have published research papers in which they point to Saab as an alleged member of acts of corruption that would exist around the business and distribution of food for the CLAP.[19][20] In the document that is addressed to the journalist Roberto Deniz and signed by the general director of CONATEL, Vianey Miguel Rojas "prohibits citizens Roberto Denis Machín, Joseph Poliszuk, Ewal Carlos Sharfenderg and Alfredo José Meza publish and disseminate through the digital media specifically on the site Armando.info, mentions that go against the honor and reputation of the citizen Alex Naím Saab (...) until the end of the present process in the case that is being pursued against the aforementioned citizens".[21][22][23]

The ban was denounced by the Venezuelan National Press Workers' Union (SNTP). Since the publication of reports on Alex Saab, the Armando.info site has suffered massive cyber attacks, warning that the ban on mentioning the Entrepreneur in successive research works "increases the threat". Roberto Deniz rejected the measure, recalling that after the publications the journalistic team had previously been threatened via Twitter, they were banned from leaving the country by the 11th Court in Caracas and now they were forbidden to continue Saab's investigation.[24] Denouncing that according to "the logic of the judge that takes Alex Saab’s lawsuit against journalists from Armando.info, Alex Saab’s “honor” and “reputation” are above the possibility that Venezuelans know the business behind of CLAP."[21][22][23] The four journalists were sued by Saab for continuous aggravated defamation and slander aggravated in Caracas.[25]

Conflict with the Criminal Investigation Department of Colombia[edit]

On 23 September 2018, one of Saab's lawyers filed a complaint with the prosecution for attempted extortion of “part of an alleged public official, who is providing confidential information about investigative proceedings against the Saab family using WhatsApp and Telegram messages, in exchange for some economic or labor purpose.”[26] On 12 October, Eddie Andrés Pinto, a patrolman of the DIJIN who served as an interception analyst, accepted the extortion charges that were imputed to him. According to the complaint in the audios and WhatsApp captures provided therein, Pinto requested COP500 million in exchange for erasing all the information that existed on behalf of Saab, also stating that there was nothing that compromised the businessman or his family, but that they were going to be captured as a measure of pressure.[27]

Criminal charges[edit]

On 8 May 2019, the Colombian prosecutors office charged Saab with crimes of money laundering, a concert to commit crimes, illicit enrichment, exports and fictitious imports and an aggravated fraud for events related to his Shatex company. Since September 2018, he is considered a fugitive in Colombia for failing to attend any judicial proceeding even with a firm arrest warrant.[28]

On 25 July 2019, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida charged Saab and another Colombian businessman with money laundering related to a 2011-15 scheme to pay bribes to take advantage of Venezuela's government-set exchange rate.[29]

Sanctions[edit]

On 25 July 2019, the United States Department of Treasury imposed sanctions on 10 people and 13 companies (from Colombia, Hong Kong (China), Mexico, Panama, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the U.S.) in a Venezuelan food subsidy called "CLAP", which includes Nicolas Maduro stepsons and Saab himself. According to a statement by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, "The corruption network that operates the CLAP program has allowed Maduro and his family members to steal from the Venezuelan people. They use food as a form of social control, to reward political supporters and punish opponents, all the while pocketing hundreds of millions of dollars through a number of fraudulent schemes."[30]

The Maduro government rejected the sanctions, calling it sign of "desperation" by "the gringo empire." Maduro said "Imperialists, prepare for more defeats, because the CLAP in Venezuela will continue, no one takes the CLAP away from the people."[29] A communique from the Venezuelan foreign ministry "denounces the repeated practice of economic terrorism by the US government against the Venezuelan people, announcing measures whose criminal purpose is to deprive all Venezuelans of their right to food."[31]

Arrest[edit]

During a fuel stop at Cape Verde, Alex Saab was arrested while on his way from Iran to Venezuela on a business jet on 12 June 2020. Saab was arrested in accordance to an Interpol red notice in relation to his indictment in the United States, accused of money laundering.[10][11]

On 22 July 2020, Baltasar Garzón said that he would represent Alex Saab in the extradition case.[32]

On 25 August 2020, the Attorney General of Cape Verde opened an investigation into two men who posed as representatives of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in favor of Alex Saab.[33]

On 28 August 2020, Saab's lawyers stated that he was on a mission to Iran as a special envoy of Maduro to negotiate fuel and humanitarian supplies at the time of his arrest.[34]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Régimen reveló que Alex Saab posee nacionalidad venezolana en un comunicado para exigir su libertad". ntn24 (in Spanish). 14 June 2020.
  2. ^ "Cabinet cuts ties with controversial Colombian". The Daily Observer. 29 April 2019. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  3. ^ "Barranquillero Álex Saab es socio de Maduro: exfiscal Ortega". El Heraldo (Colombia). 23 August 2017. Retrieved 11 January 2020.
  4. ^ "Capturan al revisor fiscal y al contador de empresas de Alex Saab". El Espectador (in Spanish). Colombia. 10 October 2018. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  5. ^ Salama, Samir (30 September 2018). "Alex Saab, Hezbollah's money man in Latin America, arrested in Cape Verde". Gulf News. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  6. ^ Pulzo.com (30 September 2018). "Alex Saab, el barranquillero que habría lavado US$ 135 millones del chavismo". pulzo.com (in Spanish). Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  7. ^ "Capturaron al revisor fiscal y al contador de Alex Saab". El Nacional (in Spanish). Venezuela. 11 October 2018. Retrieved 13 October 2018. El empresario de Barranquilla es señalado por ser contratista del chavismo
  8. ^ "FinCEN Files: Un huracán de dinero de Alex Saab, el "testaferro de Nicolás Maduro", se formó sobre Antigua". El Universo. Sep 20, 2020. Retrieved Jan 27, 2021.
  9. ^ "Fiscalía presenta en audiencia a ex empleados de firma de empresario Alex Saab". El Heraldo (in Spanish). Colombia. 12 October 2018. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  10. ^ a b Goodman, Joshua (13 June 2020). "Lawyer: businessman linked to Venezuelan leader is arrested". AP NEWS. Retrieved 2020-06-13.
  11. ^ a b "Businessman close to Maduro arrested; Venezuela slams 'arbitrary detention'". Reuters. 14 June 2020. Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  12. ^ "Álex Saab". Insight Crime. 14 June 2020. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  13. ^ a b Reyes, Gerardo (4 March 2017). "El oscuro pasado de dos millonarios contratistas del gobierno venezolano". Univisión. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  14. ^ a b "¿Quién es Alex Saab, el barranquillero socio de Maduro?". El Heraldo. 24 August 2017. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  15. ^ Calzadilla, Tamoa (8 February 2018). "Empresario que demandó a Univision Noticias arremete en Venezuela contra cuatro periodistas que tuvieron que salir del país". Univisión. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  16. ^ "Barranquillero Álex Saab es socio de Maduro: exfiscal Ortega". El Heraldo. 23 August 2017.
  17. ^ "El chavismo revendió paquetes de comida a los pobres un 112% más caro". La Razon (Espana). 26 August 2017.
  18. ^ "¿Quién es Alex Saab, el barranquillero socio de Maduro". El Heraldo. 24 August 2017.
  19. ^ Moleiro, Alonso (3 September 2018). "Maduro silencia a los medios digitales en Venezuela". El Pais.
  20. ^ "Cuatro periodistas huyen de Caracas y se unen al exilio venezolano". El Mundo (Espana). 7 February 2018.
  21. ^ a b "Conatel prohíbe a periodistas de Armando Info publicar informaciones de Alex Saab". Noticiero Digital. 11 September 2018.
  22. ^ a b "Prohibieron a periodistas de Armando.info publicar sobre Alex Saab". El Nacional. 11 September 2018.
  23. ^ a b "Conatel protege a Alex Saab y censura a medios que informen sobre caso de corrupción CLAP". Venezuela al Dia. 12 September 2018.
  24. ^ Martín, Sabrina (12 September 2018). "Venezuela: Alex Saab, el nombre que la dictadura quiere borrar de la prensa". Panam Post. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  25. ^ "Empresario Álex Saab demanda a cuatro periodistas de Armando.info". El Universo. Ecuador. 7 February 2018. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  26. ^ "Así cayó el policía que filtró la captura de Alex Saab". El Espectador (in Spanish). Colombia. 13 October 2018. Retrieved 15 November 2018. La denuncia de García
  27. ^ Palomino, Laura (16 October 2018). "El caso de extorsión denunciado por la defensa de Alex Saab". W Radio (in Spanish). Colombia. Retrieved 15 November 2018. a través del celular facilitado para comunicarse con el agente de la Dijín, pudo grabar sus conversaciones, en donde se evidencia la corrupción que existe al interior de la Dijín
  28. ^ "Fiscalía le imputó cargos a Alex Saab, señalado contratista del chavismo". El Espectador. 9 May 2019. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  29. ^ a b "U.S. sanctions target food subsidy scam in Venezuela, charges businessman". Reuters. 25 July 2019. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  30. ^ "Treasury Disrupts Corruption Network Stealing From Venezuela's Food Distribution Program, CLAP". US Department of the Treasury. 25 July 2019.
  31. ^ "Gobierno venezolano califica sanciones de EEUU como «terrorismo económico»". primicia.com.ve. 26 July 2019. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  32. ^ "Wikileaks lawyer Garzon to represent Maduro associate in U.S. extradition case". 22 July 2020 – via www.reuters.com.
  33. ^ "La Fiscalía de Cabo Verde imputó a los dos emisarios que viajaron a Caracas para tratar el caso de Alex Saab". infobae (in Spanish). August 25, 2020. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
  34. ^ "Detained Colombia businessman was negotiating with Iran for Venezuela, lawyers say". Reuters. August 28, 2020. Retrieved August 28, 2020.