Saab was flown to Mexico from Cancún over the weekend and is expected to face federal charges of bribery and money laundering
Alex Saab, alleged financier for Venezuela’s president, is extradited to the US and due in court Monday
The Swiss national Alexandre Saab was flown to Mexico from Cancún on Saturday evening, accompanied by Mexican and US immigration officials, to face federal charges of bribery and money laundering.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, New York, say he conspired to bribe officials of Venezuela’s state oil company, PDVSA, to avoid payment of billions of dollars of debts and to “blight” PDVSA to prevent its bankruptcy.
Saab, 66, has faced allegations of corruption for years.
Saab “knowingly bribed” Venezuelan officials, according to court documents.
Alexandre Saab arrives at the Mexico City airport. Photograph: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images
“In return for the bribes, Saab told PdVSA that payment of the bribes was necessary for the company to stay afloat,” according to federal prosecutors. “As a result, Saab and his co-conspirators conspired to corruptly influence the conduct of PDVSA.”
Last week, Venezuelan officials told reporters they had requested Saab’s extradition, alleging he had illegally obtained US visas in order to travel to Venezuela.
In July, the Trump administration announced Saab’s imprisonment “for official acts of corruption and corruption-related offences”.
His alleged exploits have caused outrage in the American corporate community, which has increasingly fallen out with Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro’s regime, often criticizing what many see as the corrupt practices of the state-run oil company.
In January 2017, Swiss authorities detained Saab for allegedly attempting to bribe a PDVSA employee to secure a contract to repair a rig off the coast of Venezuela. Federal prosecutors in Washington, DC, later issued an indictment accusing Saab of having “bribed Venezuelan government officials to … get paid to do his dirty work”.
Saab’s attorneys have denied the allegations.