(CNN Spanish) -
(CNN Spanish) -
The Colombian Prosecutor's Office seized six properties valued at more than US $ 9.8 million that allegedly belonged to businessman Alex Saab, who has been detained in Cape Verde, Africa, since last June and who has been singled out internationally as a front man for the questioned president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro.
The Prosecutor's Office reported in a statement this Saturday that the properties were in Cartagena and Barranquilla, and that among these, 2 properties, 3 companies and a Harley Davidson motorcycle stand out.
According to the statement, the companies “apparently were used to launder the assets of a criminal organization, since it was evident that they had been set up on paper as a front by people close to Alex Saab, since they had no financial or equity capacity, and even thus they increased their assets disproportionately ”.
MIRA: Alex Saab, alleged figurehead of Maduro, will face trial in Colombia for various crimes
At the beginning of September, the Prosecutor's Office reported that it would send Saab to trial, who is accused of the crimes of money laundering, illicit enrichment of individuals, conspiracy to commit a crime, aggravated fraud and fictitious export or import.
According to the Prosecutor's Office, Saab and a collaborator allegedly carried out "illicit financial maneuvers that represented losses to the State and served to increase its assets", while serving as legal representative and accountant of a company, respectively.
The investigation by the Prosecutor's Office suggests that the defendants "resorted to multiple maneuvers to evade tax and customs responsibilities, and give the appearance of legality to an irregular export and import scheme."
Saab, alleged figurehead of Maduro
Saab is in prison in Cape Verde, Africa, and was detained in June while allegedly on mission as a special envoy from Venezuela to acquire humanitarian resources amid the covid-19 pandemic.
The Colombian businessman was accused in the United States of bribing Venezuelan officials and money laundering.
He was arrested because of a red alert from Interpol, the Colombian Police confirmed to CNN at the time.
According to a statement from the United States Department of the Treasury, on July 25, 2019, Saab benefited from "overpriced contracts", including the government's food subsidy program in Venezuela, and participated in illicit operations with that country's gold.
MORE: Álex Saab's lawyers present an appeal against the extradition decision issued by the Cape Verdean justice
In that statement, the Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, said that “we are targeting those behind Maduro's sophisticated corruption schemes, as well as the global network of fictitious companies that benefit from the food distribution program controlled by the army".
CNN contacted the international team of lawyers defending Saab on Saturday and they did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
They have previously said publicly that Saab is absolutely convinced of their innocence.
Although Maduro has not publicly commented on the alleged relationship he would have with Saab, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry criticized the businessman's arrest in a statement published on June 13.
He said that the arrest "clearly corresponds to the actions of aggression and siege against the Venezuelan people, undertaken by the Government of the United States."
He added that Venezuela "has taken all the corresponding steps through diplomatic and legal channels to guarantee the human rights of Mr. Alex Saab."