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Venezuela’s Maduro ally Saab served as confidential DEA source: Court filing

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Alex Saab, an ally of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for almost a year, served as a confidential source for US Drug Enforcement Administration and forfeited funds as part of a deal to “self-surrender” to face charges, according to a court document unsealed on Wednesday.

US prosecutors accuse Saab, a Colombia-born businessman and dealmaker for Maduro’s government, of siphoning around $350 million out of Venezuela via the United States as part of a bribery scheme linked to the state-controlled exchange rate.

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US prosecutors who are leading the case against Saab had submitted the information under seal last February. Judge Robert Scola on Wednesday ordered the filing to be unsealed.

“In light of (Saab’s) cooperation, which included providing law enforcement with information about the bribes that he paid ... the United States has concerns regarding the safety and security of (Saab) and/or his family were this information to be disclosed to the Maduro Regime in Venezuela,” prosecutors wrote.

Maduro’s allies have characterized Washington’s pursuit of Saab as part of an “economic war” on Venezuela being waged by the US government.

They say Saab had been granted Venezuelan citizenship and had been named a diplomat to negotiate aid and fuel shipments from Iran.

Read more: Venezuela's Maduro ally Saab pleads not guilty to US money laundering charge

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