(CNN Spanish) – Colombian businessman Alex Saab appeared before a federal court in Miami in person, dressed in beige, after being extradited from Cape Verde in mid-October. His new attorney, Neil Schuster, said his client has pleaded not guilty to the money laundering conspiracy charge.
The hearing lasted only a few minutes. If found guilty, Saab could face a maximum penalty of up to 20 years.
Another seven charges were dismissed two weeks ago by the US justice after the guarantees agreed in Cape Verde, a country where the maximum penalty does not exceed 35 years.
Neil Schuster indicated that he will officially represent Saab in this case and in a very brief statement indicated that he represented his client, “a diplomat from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”
The charges facing Alex Saab
The United States alleges that Saab, whom the Department of Justice classified as an alleged front man of the questioned president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, would be involved in an alleged money laundering crime, established in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, related to a program of housing in low-income sectors, a contract obtained in November 2011.
According to the indictment, Saab took advantage of the exchange control then in force in Venezuela to obtain subsidized dollars through false and fraudulent import documents for articles and materials that were never imported into Venezuela, bribing Venezuelan public officials with money deposited in US bank accounts. ..
On different occasions, Saab has declared that he has not committed any crime in any country and is a political victim of the US The governments of Cuba and Russia have supported this thesis.
A small group of supporters of the Venezuelan government came to the outskirts of the Court and demanded the release of Alex Saab.