U.S. Seizes $150M in Hezbollah-Linked Funds
U.S. authorities announced the seizure of $150 million allegedly linked to a money-laundering scheme by the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.
The Lebanese Canadian Bank and other unidentified institutions sent nearly $330 million to the United States between 2007 and 2011 to finance the purchase of used cars that were shipped to West Africa, according to the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Money from the sale of the cars was then routed to Lebanon, where it was handed over to Hezbollah, according to the attorney’s office.
Monday’s seizure concerns a December 2011 money laundering and forfeiture complaint filed in U.S. federal court in New York that targeted the bank and two other Lebanese financial institutions with alleged ties to Hezbollah.
“As we alleged last year, the Lebanese Canadian Bank played a key role in facilitating money laundering for Hezbollah controlled organizations across the globe,” Drug Enforcement Administration chief Michele Leonhart said in a statement.
A Hezbollah official refuted the charges, saying they were “another attempt to tarnish the image of the resistance in Lebanon,” but U.S. prosecutors said there was no doubt about the institutions’ ties to the militant outfit, AFP reported.