Businessman close to Venezuela's Maduro was DEA informant, records show

MIAMI — A Colombian businessman linked to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was secretly signed up by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a cooperating source in 2018 and gave agents information about bribes he paid to Venezuelan officials, according to new court records unsealed Wednesday in the closely watched corruption case.

Alex Saab forfeited nearly $10 million of his fortune as part of his cooperation agreement with the US, which included several meetings with US law enforcement in his native Colombia and elsewhere.

However, he was deactivated as a source after failing to meet a May 30, 2019, deadline to surrender himself. Two months later, he was indicted in Miami federal court on charges of siphoning off millions from state contracts to build affordable housing for Venezuela’s socialist government.

The US has described Saab as the main conduit for corruption in Venezuela, someone who reaped huge windfall profits from dodgy contracts to import food while starved millions in the South American nation. The Maduro government considers him a diplomat who was kidnapped while on a humanitarian mission made more urgent by US sanctions.

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