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

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.


Two killed, 35 wounded in Baghdad protests: Police, medics

Updated 18 min 21 sec ago

Two killed, 35 wounded in Baghdad protests: Police, medics

  • One protester died immediately after a tear gas canister hit his head and another died in hospital from wounds from a stun bomb fired by security forces
  • More than 300 people have been killed since Oct. 1, as security forces have fired tear gas canisters and rubber bullets at crowds of protesters
BAGHDAD: Security forces killed two protesters and wounded 35 others in Baghdad on Thursday, police and medical sources said, as thousands of Iraqis continued a wave of anti-government protests.

One protester died immediately after a tear gas canister hit his head and another died in hospital from wounds from a stun bomb fired by security forces, police and hospital sources said.

More than 300 people have been killed since Oct. 1, as security forces have fired tear gas canisters and rubber bullets at crowds of protesters.