Swiss officials have dropped a case involving Alex Saab, a close ally of the regime of Venezuelan leader, Nicolás Maduro.
According to Gotham City, an investigative news website sourcing information through a judicial watch, Geneva’s prosecutor confirmed that they had dropped the three-year-long probe over insufficient evidence to prove their case.
Alex Saab and his partner, Álvaro Publico Vargas were being investigated for suspected money laundering via Swiss offshore accounts. The investigation started in 2018.
The Venezuelan businessman is currently fighting extradition to the US from Cape Verde where he has been in custody for about nine months in what appears to be a complex diplomatic row involving the two countries and Venezuela.
Gotham City said its investigations revealed that Saab is connected to 22 accounts at UBS, although a spokesman for the Swiss wealth manager said it couldn’t comment on the issue.
It is alleged that some of the proceeds from the supposed fraudulent deal went through Swiss accounts.
The Swiss investigations commenced after some banks reportedly lodged complaints to authorities about suspicious funds.
The decision by the Swiss prosecutors could have some impact on the US case as it also relies on claims of transfer of the fraudulent proceeds through Swiss accounts.
The prosecutors reportedly assessed information from UBS which showed fund movements between accounts at banks in Switzerland only and concluded that at the material moment, it had no evidence to further investigate the charge of money laundering hence the need to discontinue criminal proceedings.
While all this is ongoing, Mr. Saab remains under house arrest in Cape Verde although the ECOWAS court on March 15, 2021 in a ruling ordered his release.
The court ordered Cape Verde to stop all extradition processes against him and also compensate him with $200,000.
The ruling was primarily on the basis contrary to claims, Cape Verde Interpol did not issue any red notice for Mr. Saab’s arrest on the day he was arrested.
The Supreme Court in Cape Verde, a day after that ruling also delivered a counter-ruling approving the extradition of Mr. Saab.
Lawyers for Mr. Saab have indicated that they will appeal the decision but have taken various actions including writing to the ECOWAS court to get the ECOWAS community to sanction Cape Verde over its decision not to comply with the ruling.