The US Department of Justice has announced that authorities in the Republic of Cape Verde have arrested Alexei Saab, a Colombian-Lebanese businessman accused by the United States of money laundering.
Justice Department spokesperson Nicole Navas-Oxman said in a statement that Saab had been arrested under an INTERPOL Red Notice issued after the US indictment, without providing further details.
Saab’s lawyer, Maria Dominguez, confirmed the arrest. The US prosecution accused Saab of money laundering in connection with a scheme, conducted between 2011 and 2015, to offer bribes and benefit from the exchange rate set by the Venezuelan government, and also for his relationship with Hezbollah.
The arrested businessman and his Italian wife, Camilla Fabri, are also under investigation in Italy for money laundering.
Alexei is close to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. He is also the ‘financial right hand’ of Hezbollah.
The businessman is Colombian of Lebanese origins, he also carries a Venezuelan passport. He won contracts to obtain supplies for the food subsidy program run by the Maduro government.
Washington also imposed sanctions on the food deals, which US officials have described as a fraud aimed at enriching Saab and Maduro.
They accused him and his business partner Alvaro Boledo of laundering money and transporting $350 million outside Venezuela, either to the United States or across the country to foreign accounts.
Saab has had connections with Hezbollah for the past 20 years. He is considered Hezbollah’s first man in South America.
Also known as Ali Hassan Saab, Alexei began his career with Hezbollah in 1996, to implement at that time the first monitoring operation inside Lebanon in a southern region.
He then moved in 1999 to the stage of training in various types of firearms, according to a ministry at the American Justice.
He became a member of the Hezbollah unit responsible for external operations in 2000. That’s when he received extensive training in the field of weapons and military tactics, including how to make bombs and other explosive devices.
That same year Saab entered The United States using a Lebanese passport and received his American citizenship in 2008.
Despite his moving to live in America, he remained a member of Hezbollah’s “external security” 910 organization and worked to monitor dozens of strategic sites in New York City.
These include the United Nations headquarters, the Statue Of Liberty, Times Square, local airports and bridges, etc. He provided details, information, and photographs of these sites to the organization.
According to LBC, Saab faces several charges that may get him behind bars for decades, primarily including providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
Noting that the United States of America has placed Hezbollah on the list of terrorists since 1997.