Venezuelan Dictator Nicolas Maduro picked an accused criminal who was recently freed by the Biden administration for a senior cabinet position in the regime, Bloomberg reported.
Alex Saab was previously arrested and extradited to the U.S. in 2021 on bribery and corruption charges, but was released in December 2023 as part of a prisoner swap deal between the Biden administration and Venezuela. Maduro has now chosen Saab to head up his regime’s international investment center, according to Bloomberg.
Saab, a businessman, was originally arrested in Cabo Verde by local authorities in 2020 and turned over to the U.S. in 2021, where he was charged with money laundering in a scheme of embezzling roughly $350 million out of Venezuela, according to the Department of Justice.
The Biden administration transferred Saab back to Venezuela in exchange for 10 American and 20 Venezuelan prisoners, according to The Guardian. The swap came alongside a larger deal for the Biden administration to grant Venezuela oil sanctions relief if Maduro agreed to hold free and fair elections, which he has thus far failed to do after suspending his chief political opponent’s primary election victory results in October.
“It looks like Maduro, so far, is keeping his commitment on a free election. But it ain’t done yet. We’ve got a long way to go,” President Joe Biden said in December.
Venezuela has spiraled into poverty under Maduro’s regime, and roughly a quarter of the country’s population has fled elsewhere. The Biden administration has not reimposed oil sanctions on Venezuela despite Maduro’s apparent violation of the deal.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Post written by Jake Smith. Republished with permission from DCNF.