Kenneth Rijock

Kenneth Rijock

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

VENEZUELAN PAYMENTS TO HEZBOLLAH FLOWED THROUGH ANTIGUA

president Nicolás Maduro and Alex Saab Morán


Alex Nain Saab Moran, the Barranquilla, Colombian businessman who is a close associate of Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro, reportedly assisted the Venezuelan Government in providing financial support to Hezbollah, moving the money through Antiguan banks. Saab, who is wanted for questioning in his native Colombia on money laundering charges, is believed to have fled to Europe. Devis José Mendoza and Robinson Ruiz Guerrero, his accountant and auditor have already been arrested by the authorities in Colombia, for money laundering.

After Saab's flight to avoid prosecution, the Antiguan government issued an official denial, regarding his involvement in money laundering. Saab, who holds a diplomatic passport from Antigua, is listed as its Economic Envoy, though he appears to have no specific duties, or assignments, as a diplomat.

According to reliable financial crime analysts, Saab is being sought by law enforcement agencies of the United States, and the State of Israel. He allegedly used his contacts to supply food to Venezuela, under a special government program, to collect US Dollars at an artificial rate of exchange, which netted him extraordinary profits. One reliable source has the value of the contract at $200m.

Pursuant to directions from president Maduro, Saab transferred funds through his own offshore bank in Antigua, and employing local Antigua financial institutions, moved laundered money to Asia, and thereafter to Hezbollah, which is a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization (OFAC ). He has maintained a close relationship with senior government officials in Antigua, and his Colombian attorney, Abelardo de la Espriella, who has visited Antigua since Saab disappeared from Colombia in late 2018, denies that he has fled the region to avoid arrest.

Given the alleged involvement of a number of Antiguan banks, in what will certainly be considered providing material support to a designated terrorist organization, both Country Risk for Antigua, and risk levels, regarding all financial institutions located in Antigua, must be elevated at this time. We have not named the banks, due to the pending investigations. US and EU banks should conduct look backs on all transactions involving Saab's offshore bank, and the lead bank he worked with in Antigua, as US authorities have an ongoing investigation in progress.

 

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