Friday, June 29, 2012
Treasury Targets Drug-Money Laundering Network, Hezbollah Fundraiser
Wall Street Journal
The U.S. Treasury Department said Wednesday it designated four individuals and three entities under the Kingpin Act for their role in laundering drug money for alleged international drug trafficker Ayman Joumaa.
The Treasury also designated a Colombia-based individual as a terrorist for directing the Americas fundraising activity of Hezbollah, a U.S. State Department-listed foreign terrorism organization.
“The Joumaa network is a sophisticated multinational money laundering ring, which launders the proceeds of drug trafficking for the benefit of criminals and the terrorist group Hezbollah,” said David S. Cohen, the undersecretary of Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, in astatment.
Abbas Hussein Harb and Ibrahim Chibli were designated for collaborating with Joumaa to move millions in drug-related money, Treasury said. Harb’s Colombia and Venezuela-based organization launders money for the network through the Lebanese financial sector, while Chibli used his position as manager of a branch of Fenicia Bank in Lebanon to help Joumaa and Harb, Treasury said.
Ali Mohamad Saleh, a Lebanese Colombian national, was designated as a global terrorist for acting as a Hezbollah facilitator, directing the group’s activity in Colombia, Treasury said. Saleh was the acting leader of a support cell in Maicao, Colombia,which raised funds for Hezbollah; he solicited donations and coordinated the transfer of checks and donations to the group in Lebanon via Venezula.
Saleh was placed under Kingpin Act sanctions in December 2011 for his role as a Maicao-based money launderer for a reputed criminal organization with links to the Joumaa network.
Also placed under sanctions Wednesday are Harb’s brother, Ali Houssein Harb, and Saleh’s brother, Kassem Mohamad Saleh, for their links to the Joumaa network. They control the three companies targeted in Wednesday’s action.
Joumaa, for his part, was designated in January 2011 under the Kingpin Act. He was charged in December 2011 with cocaine distribution and money laundering through, among other venues, the Lebanese Canadian Bank, whose untainted assets were bought—with American blessings—by a Beirut-based branch of Societe Generale after Treasury issued a finding against it as a “primary money-laundering concern.”
“The [Drug Enforcement Administration] investigation of Ayman Joumaa that helped lead to today’s Treasury actions is critical to protecting the U.S. financial system from illicit activity and is another tool used to disrupt and dismantle these drug and money laundering networks,” said John Arvanitis, DEA financial operations chief, in the statement
Michael Hearns an Anti Money Laundering specialist with over 24 years of AML experience can also be found at: http://www.launderingmoney.com/ and on twitter at : http://twitter.com/#!/LaunderingMoney