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.


Turkey probes dozens over quake social media posts

Updated 27 January 2020

Turkey probes dozens over quake social media posts

  • Suspects accused of sharing fake images about the quake on social media
  • Death toll from Friday’s quake had reached 39 people as hopes dimmed of finding more survivors

ISTANBUL: Turkish prosecutors are investigating dozens of people for “provocative” social media messages about the deadly earthquake in eastern Turkey, reports said Monday.
The death toll from Friday’s quake in Elazig province had reached 39 people as hopes dimmed of finding more survivors amid the rubble.
The Ankara prosecutor’s office is checking 50 individuals on suspicion of “spreading fear and panic” and “insulting the Turkish people, the Turkish republic and the state institutions,” the Hurriyet daily said.
The suspects are accused of sharing fake images about the quake on social media.
Turkish authorities were winding up their rescue efforts on Monday.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told reporters that 24,000 tents had been provided, 1,000 container shelters were being built, and funds released to repair damaged buildings.
Thirty-five of the victims died in Elazig and four in the neighboring province of Malatya, officials said.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 86 injured were still being treated in hospitals — 18 of them in intensive care units.