A Miami judge dropped all seven money laundering charges against Colombian Alex Saab, an ally of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
However, Saab is still charged with his felony money laundering conspiracy, according to his court file. For this charge, he could be sentenced up to 20 years in prison in the United States.
All seven counts were dismissed "on the basis of assurances made to the Republic of Cape Verde during the extradition process," court documents show.
"It is respectfully requested that the charges be dismissed," the prosecutor said, the AP noted.
The motion to dismiss, filed by the U.S. Justice Department, said that "on Sept. 7, 2020, during the extradition process, the United States sent an assurance through diplomatic channels to the Republic of Cape Verde" that Saab would not be prosecuted or punished "for more than one count of the indictment in order to comply with Cape Verdean law regarding the maximum term of imprisonment."
Prosecutors made a commitment to Cape Verdean authorities to drop the charges to prevent Saab, 49, from being sentenced to a penalty higher than the maximum penalty under the African country's laws.
The arraignment hearing against Saab, accused of being Nicolás Maduro's front man, was postponed to Nov. 15, 2021 after his lawyer, Henry Bell, assured that they have not been able to meet because of the mandatory quarantine to which he was subjected since his arrival in the United States after being extradited from Cape Verde.
What is assumed so far, is that Saab is going to plead not guilty for the crime of money laundering the United States accuses him of. In fact, his lawyer would ask for his release, arguing that he is not responsible for the charges against him.
According to the indictment, since May 2019, more than a year before his capture in Cape Verde due to a warrant issued through Interpol, Saab has been subject to sanctions by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Treasury Department.