Lawyers in the United States, Venezuela, the Cape Verde islands and Nigeria are pulling out all the stops to seek to keep ALEX NAIN SAAB MORAN from being extradited to the United States, where a major ($350m) money laundering indictment awaits him in U.S. District Court in Miami. Moran's extradition was confirmed by Cape Verde's highest court, and his extradition is believed to be imminent.
Saab, who is of Lebanese extraction, id also wanted in his native Colombia. He, as well as a number of his and his partner's family members, have all been sanctioned by the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
His various attorneys have advanced a number of legal theories to block the Department of Justice from trying their client, all of which to date have proven ineffectual.
1. Their efforts to have his designated Fugitive Status removed in SDFL were blocked, as well as his purported Diplomatic Status. We note that he was NOT in possession of a diplomatic passport from Venezuela when he was detained. He is not a Venezuelan national, but is a Colombian. His CBI passport, issued by Antigua & Barbuda, where he is also a purported diplomat, was revoked. It is questionable whether he has complied with the requirements of the Vienna Convention, and he is obviously not an accredited diplomat. The judge in SDFL invoked the Doctrine of Fugitive Disentitlement, which holds that Federal fugitives cannot obtain any relief in an American District Court unless they are physically within the Court's jurisdiction, meaning present in the US. His counsel has appealed this ruling.
2. His lawyers secured an order from a West African regional court in Nigeria, but Cape Verde refused to accept that court's ruling as binding upon them, as it was not enforceable. It is noteworthy that a social media campaign in Nigeria to generate global public opinion to "free" Saab was exposed as having been created by Saab's close associates.
2. His appeal, to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, of the lower court decision, remains pending. We are closely monitoring that case, as well as the efforts of Cape Verde officials to coordinate his physical transport to Miami.
3. His attorneys claim that, since there is no extradition treaty between the US and the Cape Verde Islands, he is unable to invoke the protections of the Doctrine of Specialty, which only allow charging for the crimes one is extradite for. His lawyers argue that he could, after arrival in the US, be charged with additional felonies, and therefore he should not be extradited.
This case is of interest to our Malta readers, due to the fact that both Saab and his co-defendant, ALVARO PULIDO VARGAS, also a Colombian national, had Maltese corporations, which they allegedly employed in their international money laundering operations. The identities of individuals in Malta who facilitated Saab and Pulido's criminal conduct have not yet been named publicly, but it is anticipated that they will be shown at trial, and in the evidence introduced therein. They are believed to include Maltese financial services company officers, and corrupt senior government officials who assisted him in money movement.
Professor Bruce Bagley, the former head of the University of Miami's Department of International Studies, and who has pled guilty to money laundering, will most likely be a principal witness against Saab, who was allegedly his client. Bagley's sentencing has been postponed to October 1, 2021, in what was seen as a tactic to keep him in South Florida, to facilitate his availability to testify. There are believed to be several other cooperating witnesses standing by to appear agaInst Saab Moran at trial. Therefore, he has reason to seek to avoid a trial, where a conviction, and a long sentence, is the probable outcome.