WorldEcuador Prosecutor's Office investigates the business of Saab, alleged...

Ecuador Prosecutor’s Office investigates the business of Saab, alleged figurehead of Maduro

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The Prosecutor’s Office of Ecuador investigates the businesses of Colombian businessman Alex Saab, alleged front man of Nicolás Maduro, in which former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa (2007-2017) would be involved, Assemblyman Fernando Villavicencio reported on Sunday.

The accusing body “has opened a preliminary investigation into the crime of embezzlement and other related crimes, mainly linking Rafael Correa and high-ranking authorities of his government,” the left-wing parliamentarian told AFP.

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Villavicencio, a journalist opposed to Correa and in whose government he was considered a politically persecuted person, provided a copy of the notification from the Prosecutor’s Office addressed to the National Assembly. The document indicates the beginning of the investigation “for the alleged crime of embezzlement”, processing a recommendation from the legislative oversight commission, headed by the same deputy.

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According to that commission, Saab took advantage of the Unique Regional Compensation System (Sucre), a virtual currency that countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (Alba) adopted in 2009 to replace the dollar.

The Alba is currently made up of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. Ecuador left the bloc in 2018 and Bolivia a year later.

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With his Colombian company Fondo Global de Construcciones, with a subsidiary in Ecuador, Saab “Negotiated the export of prefabricated houses to Venezuela for 350 million dollars”, in an operation similar to the one he previously carried out from Colombia, all during the government of the late Hugo Chávez, Villavicencio explained.

Caracas paid in bolivars and the Saab subsidiary in Ecuador received dollars through the Ecuadorian Central Bank through the Sucre system.

“Not a single door was exported from Colombia and Ecuador has a deficit in this type of house”, stated Villavicencio and said that “these were illegal, fictitious and overvalued operations.”

The legislator considers that Correa is part of the irregularities as he is “the direct author of this mechanism”, alluding to Sucre.

The former socialist ruler settled in Belgium shortly after completing his term in May 2017, and in Ecuador the justice sentenced him along with several of his former collaborators to eight years in prison, for receiving bribes in exchange for contracts with various companies.

Saab was arrested in June 2020 during a stopover in Cape Verde and extradited last October at the request of the US justice, which considers him to be an alleged figurehead for Maduro.

It alleges that between 2011 and 2015 it used the US financial system to launder the illicit profits obtained, transferring 350 million dollars from Venezuela, through accounts in the United States and other countries.

Already extradited, Saab has pleaded not guilty. He is currently awaiting trial in Miami.

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