Washington continues to ramp up pressure on the Hezbollah Militia and stifle the group’s illicit activities around the world as the US government on Friday imposed sanctions against three Lebanese businessmen, accusing them of money laundering and providing financial support for Hezbollah.
In a statement issued Friday, the US Treasury Department said that the targeted individuals are Nazem Ahmad, Saleh Assi, and Tony Saab who were all added to the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions list.
The statement indicated that Ahmad, a diamond dealer, is a prominent Lebanon-based money launderer and significant Hizballah financier. As of late 2016, Ahmad was considered a major Hizballah financial donor who laundered money through his companies for Hizballah and provided funds personally to Hizballah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. It also said that Ahmad is also close to U.S.-designated Hizballah officials, to include Nasrallah and Hizballah’s representative to Iran, Abdallah Safi-al-Din.
The Department accused Assi of materially assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, Adham Tabaja, a person whose property and interests in property were earlier blocked by the US Treasury. It added that Assi and his companies also engage in tax evasion and money laundering schemes in the DRC that generate illicit profits of tens of millions of dollars per year.
As an employee of Assi’s company Inter Aliment, Saab was accused of materially assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for Assi. Saab was also involved in facilitating Assi’s payments to Tabaja.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said his country “will continue to use all the tools at our disposal to counter the threat Hizballah poses” a few hours after the US Treasury announced the sanctions.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also accused Hezbollah of continuing “to use seemingly legitimate businesses as front companies to raise and launder funds in countries like the DRC where it can use bribery and political connections to secure unfair market access and evade taxes.”
In May 2018, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and other senior leaders of the group. The group has been a US-designated terrorist organization since 1997 and is now fighting in support of the Assad regime. (Source: Syrian National Coalition’s Media Department)