CARACAS, Venezuela — Socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro appointed his alleged top money launderer Alex Saab as the new head of the regime’s international investment center on Monday evening.
Maduro asserted that he wants to take advantage of Saab’s “international experience” to attract investments for the rogue socialist regime. Saab, who was undergoing trial proceedings at a United States court on money laundering charges, received a pardon from President Joe Biden in December as part of a prisoner exchange deal with Maduro.
“I announce the appointment of Alex Saab Moran as the new president of the Productive Investment Center of Venezuela, so that he, with his experience, will help our country to bring investments and bring the economic strength of the world,” Maduro told the National Assembly on Monday. “Alex, I trust you completely.”
#EnVideo📹| Jefe de Estado @NicolasMaduro designó al diplomático venezolano Alex Saab como nuevo Presidente del Centro de Inversiones Productivas de Venezuela.#MemoriaYCuenta2023 pic.twitter.com/zriOgZKK8p
— VTV CANAL 8 (@VTVcanal8) January 15, 2024
Saab, a 51-year-old Colombian businessman, has long been suspected of serving as Maduro’s personal financial brain and a close ally. The Department of Justice indicted him in 2019 on charges of using the United States banking system to launder $350 million from Venezuela’s state coffers in overseas accounts as part of a bribery scheme that involved shady affordable housing construction contracts.
Saab was also an instrumental figure in the implementation of the Maduro regime’s CLAP program, which sells heavily subsidized monthly boxes of low-quality and often rotten food to Venezuelan citizens.
American law enforcement authorities arrested Saab in Cape Verde in 2020, where he remained until his extradition to the United States in October 2021. He was then transferred to a federal jail in Miami, Florida, to await trial proceedings. During his time in American custody, the Maduro regime claimed that Saab was “kidnapped” by the United States, launching an extensive multi-year social media campaign demanding his immediate release.
President Joe Biden pardoned Saab in December and sent him back to Caracas as part of a prisoner swap deal with the rogue socialist regime. In exchange, Maduro released a group of unjustly imprisoned Americans and Venezuelan political dissidents.
Here’s the Biden presidential pardon that freed Alex Saab.
-No return of $12 million he forfeited to DEA
-Applies to a single case, so in theory Saab can be charged in a separate 2021 case for food trafficking where he’s “co-conspirator 1”
-No book deal/Netflix series pic.twitter.com/wbe9ucknVQ
— Joshua Goodman (@APjoshgoodman) December 22, 2023
Days after the prisoner exchange, Maduro claimed on his podcast — one of his several media shows — that the group of unjustly detained Americans and Venezuelan dissidents were a “group of convicted and confessed people,” unlike Saab, who he described as an “innocent man.”
The White House claimed in December that Saab’s release is part of the Biden administration’s strategy to help curb the large flow of Venezuelan refugees who continue to enter the United States daily.
Saab, his wife, Roman Camilla Fabri, and three of Fabri’s family members have active arrest warrants issued by Italian law enforcement authorities since 2022 on charges of money laundering and fraudulent transfer of assets.
The International Center for Productive Investment (CIIP), which Saab now leads, was established by Maduro in 2020 to attract “local and foreign capital to boost the national economy.” The office is also tasked with the “registration, study and follow-up” of the sanctions imposed on the Maduro regime for its continued human rights violations against Venezuelans.
Venezuelan journalist Roberto Deniz, who extensively covered the CLAP program’s corruption schemes, described Saab’s appointment as CIIP’s head as a position “better than a Ministry,” asserting that the Center even decides “who to give ships with [State-oil company] PDVSA oil to.”
In November, the Biden Administration awarded the Maduro regime with a generous oil and gas sanctions relief package. The currently active sanctions relief package allows Maduro to once again freely sell Venezuelan oil in U.S. and international markets, restoring the rogue socialist regime’s main source of income.
In exchange, Maduro provided the United States with vague promises to hold a “free and fair” presidential election sometime in the second half of 2024 that the socialist regime has so far shown no signs of intending to fulfill.
At press time, Venezuela has not set a date for the 2024 presidential election. Additionally, the Maduro regime continues to uphold its ban on María Corina Machado — who won the primary election in 2023 to challenge Maduro – from running for or holding public office until 2030.
Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.