U.S. judge dismisses most money laundering charges against Maduro ally Saab

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Alex Saab Moran is seen successful a booking photograph disposable to Reuters connected October 17, 2021. Broward County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS

Nov 1 (Reuters) - A U.S. justice successful Florida connected Monday dismissed wealth laundering counts against Alex Saab, an state of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, but helium remains accused of 1 number of conspiracy to launder money, a tribunal filing showed.

The bid was issued by U.S. District Judge Robert Scola. The conspiracy complaint that remains carries a maximum condemnation of 20 years successful prison.

Saab was extradited past period to the United States from Cape Verde, wherever helium was detained successful the summertime of 2020 connected a U.S. warrant.

Prosecutors accidental Saab, a Colombia-born businessman and apical dealmaker for Maduro's socialist government, siphoned astir $350 cardinal retired of Venezuela via the United States arsenic portion of a bribery strategy linked to Venezuela's state-controlled speech rate.

The lawsuit has strained already frayed relations betwixt Washington and Caracas.

In a Monday filing, U.S. prosecutors requested that 7 of the archetypal 8 charges contained successful a July 2019 indictment beryllium dropped to comply with assurances that officials made to the authorities of Cape Verde successful seeking Saab's extradition.

Prosecutors said officials promised Cape Verde that Saab would lone beryllium charged connected a azygous number to comply with the archipelago nation's laws regarding the maximum word of imprisonment.

Saab faces up to 20 years successful situation if convicted of conspiracy to launder money.

One of Saab's lawyers, Henry Bell, told Reuters past week that his lawsuit would plead not blameworthy astatine an arraignment that had been primitively scheduled for Monday but was postponed to Nov. 15. Bell declined to remark connected Monday's decision.

Venezuela's absorption has said it hopes Saab volition archer U.S. instrumentality enforcement agencies what helium knows astir immoderate transgression enactment by apical Venezuelan officials, arsenic good arsenic the government's schemes for evading U.S. sanctions, which were aimed astatine ousting Maduro. work much

Washington has called Maduro a corrupt dictator and blamed him for the once-wealthy OPEC nation's economical collapse.

Following Saab's arrest, Venezuela's authorities said Saab had been granted Venezuelan citizenship and had been named a diplomat to negociate shipments of substance and humanitarian assistance from Iran.

In effect to the extradition, Maduro's authorities past period suspended nascent negotiations with the opposition.

Maduro's allies person characterized Washington's pursuit of Saab arsenic portion of an "economic war" connected Venezuela being waged by the U.S. government.

The U.S.-backed opposition, which has called connected Maduro to resume the talks, has said Saab became affluent arsenic a effect of the deals helium made with the authorities and did thing to relieve the suffering of Venezuela's citizens.

Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer successful San Fancisco and Luc Cohen successful New York, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Noeleen Walder

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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