Spanish court refuses to extradite Venezuelan ex-minister

Madrid (AP/UNB) — Spain´s National Court has rejected the extradition to the United States of a former Venezuelan minister allegedly involved in money laundering linked to Venezuela’s PDVSA state oil company.

The court said Tuesday it had turned down the extradition of Javier Alvarado Ochoa, former electrical development minister, because he has Spanish nationality and is being investigated in Spain on similar charges.

Alvarado was arrested in May near his home in Madrid.

The court said U.S. documents indicate Alvarado and PDVSA directors formed part of a U.S.-based criminal group that between 2011 and 2013 accumulated some $50 million in bribes from suppliers. The money is believed to have been laundered in the U.S. and other countries, including Spain.

Alvarado, who was director of a PDVSA subsidiary at the time, is also being investigated in Andorra and Portugal.

Spanish police are still searching for retired Maj. Gen. Hugo Carvajal, a former Venezuelan military spy chief wanted by the U.S. for drug smuggling and other charges. Carvajal fled before police could arrest him after the court ordered his extradition in September, reversing an earlier decision not to extradite him.