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Alleged Maduro money launderer under house arrest in Cape Verde

Colombian businessman Alex Saab, who is allegedly close to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and wanted in the US for money laundering, has been put under house arrest in Cape Verde.

Saab had been held in the West African island state because of an extradition order from the United States, a public prosecutor said Tuesday.

Both he and an associate named Alvaro Pulido have been charged with allegedly moving about $350 million (287 million euros) out of Venezuela either to the United States or through the US to foreign accounts.

If convicted, they face up to 20 years in prison.

Pulido's whereabouts are unknown.

Washington believes the money comes from a vast corruption network which the two men managed for Maduro's benefit.

Venezuela's opposition has also described Saab as a frontman for Maduro.

Saab was detained in June as a plane he was travelling on stopped over in Cape Verde.

A Cape Verdean court upheld his extradition in January. Saab has appealed the decision in the Supreme Court.

Maduro's government has called Saab's arrest arbitrary, and in September alleged that he had suffered mistreatment and torture.

Washington has led international pressure on Maduro's government primarily though sanctions and support for opposition leader Juan Guaido, who unsuccessfully tried to unseat the president in 2019.

Maduro is seen in the US as a dictator while Venezuela's opposition accuses him of being a usurper over his controversial re-election in 2018 in voting widely denounced as rigged. 

Washington has also hit 15 companies linked to Saab with sanctions.

The businessman was transferred from detention to house arrest under heavy guard on Monday evening, according to footage broadcast on Cape Verdean television.

Topics: Alex Saab , Cape Verde , Venezuela , Alvaro Pulido , Nicolas Maduro
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