Image copyright Reuters Image caption Saab has been known as one of Hugo Chavez’s closest aides
An alleged financier of Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chavez, has been extradited to the US.
Alex Saab, also known as “Chavez’s right-hand man”, was arrested in Colombia in March on a warrant from the US justice department.
Saab has been indicted in a US court on charges including conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, money laundering and obstruction of justice.
He will appear in a US district court on Monday.
Chavez, who led Venezuela from 1999 to 2013, was immensely popular in the region.
But he was widely criticised for using extra-constitutional powers to stay in power and suppressing political opposition.
Saab, who served as president of Venezuela between 2005 and 2008, was considered one of Chavez’s closest allies.
Judge Paul Abola on the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia will determine whether Saab should remain in custody pending a hearing.
However, Saab has been confined to a residence inside Colombia, his lawyers said.
“He’s a highly influential financier in Latin America. It’s no surprise that those with influence and power would face prosecution,” said David O’Neil, Saab’s attorney.
“It’s no surprise he’d be treated more leniently in the US than in the conduct alleged in the indictment.”
O’Neil denied that Saab had been offered immunity from extradition in return for a guilty plea.
“They already know their case against him is weak so now the prosecutors are trying to create an incentive for him to admit guilt,” he said.
He added that Saab was not involved in overthrowing Chavez.
According to the indictment, Saab had in 2012 invested “hundreds of millions of dollars” from an international drug operation for what was referred to as “Chavez’s administrative purposes”.
He is also accused of carrying out bribes to buy land in Venezuela from a US-based real estate developer.
Court records from Saab’s trial showed that he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the same offence in 2007.
The New York Times says Saab has been making several legal challenges to the US indictment in Colombia.