US slaps sanctions on Lebanese ‘money laundering’ group

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah addresses supporters via a screen in Beirut, Lebanon, September 20, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 11 April 2019
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US slaps sanctions on Lebanese ‘money laundering’ group

WASHINGTON: US officials on Thursday announced it has sanctioned a Lebanese network accused of laundering millions of dollars for “drug kingpins” and helping finance Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Shiite movement that Washington labels a terrorist organization.
The US Treasury Department said it has added Lebanese national Kassem Chams to its blacklist, along with two related entities: the “Chams Money Laundering Organization” and Chams Exchange, a money service business in Lebanon.
“Kassem Chams and his international money laundering network move tens of millions of dollars a month in illicit narcotics proceeds on behalf of drug kingpins and facilitate money movements for Hezbollah,” Treasury said in a statement.


The Chams network moves money to and from multiple countries including Australia, Brazil, Colombia, France, Italy, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Spain, the United States and Venezuela, according to the department.
The sanctions are part of the administration’s “unprecedented campaign to prevent Hezbollah and its global terror affiliates from profiting off violence, corruption, and the drug trade,” Treasury under secretary Sigal Mandelker said.
The department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said Chams Exchange operates under license and supervision of the Central Bank of Lebanon (BdL) “despite US authorities long suspecting it” of significant money laundering.
Treasury said it remains committed to working with BdL “to eliminate access to the Lebanese financial system by narcotics traffickers, money launderers, and terrorist groups such as Hezbollah.”
President Donald Trump’s administration has accused Iran of taking provocative measures to destabilize the Middle East.
It has increased sanctions on the Islamic republic in order to undercut its revenues and to financially squeeze regional allies like the Lebanese Hezbollah.
Earlier this week Washington designated Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.


US to send 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East

Updated 18 June 2019
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US to send 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East

DUBAI/WASHINGTON: Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced on Monday the deployment of about 1,000 more troops to the Middle East for what he said were “defensive purposes,” citing concerns about a threat from Iran.
“The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region,” Shanahan said in a statement.
Reuters first reported plans to send US additional troops to the Middle East earlier on Monday.
Fears of a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since last Thursday when two oil tankers were attacked, more than a year after President Donald Trump announced Washington was withdrawing from a 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran said on Monday it would soon breach limits on how much enriched uranium it can stockpile under the deal, which a White House National Security Council spokesman said amounted to “nuclear blackmail.”