The United States Treasury Department sanctions aim to block a network of Lebanese bank accounts that purportedly sent $500 million to Hezbollah.
The Treasury Department has sanctioned seven Lebanese individuals linked to Hezbollah and its banking apparatus for transferring $500 million on behalf of the Lebanese political faction.
The U.S. Treasury Tuesday designated Ibrahim Ali Daher, chief of Hezbollah’s finance sector, and six other men who allegedly used personal accounts at Lebanese banks, including Jammal Trust Bank, to evade U.S. sanctions.
The other six individuals are Ahmad Mohamad Yazbeck, Abbas Hassan Gharib, Wahid Mahmud Subayti, Mostafa Habib Harb, Ezzat Youssef Akar, and Hasan Chehadeh Othman.
The sanctions will block any assets the individuals hold in U.S. financial institutions and prevent future interbank transactions from going through the US banking system and subsidiary banks worldwide.
According to the Treasury Department statement, the seven men “have all participated in evasive ‘shadow’ banking activity” through Hezbollah’s financial firm Al-Qard al-Hassan.
Andrea Gacki, the US Treasury’s director of foreign assets control, alleged in the statement that: “From the highest levels of Hezbollah’s financial apparatus to working level individuals, Hezbollah continues to abuse the Lebanese financial sector and drain Lebanon’s financial resources at an already dire time."
As part of our continuing efforts to expose and restrict Hizballah's activities, the United States designated seven individuals related to the terrorist group's financial operations, six of whom served as shadow bankers.— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) May 11, 2021
Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement justifying the sanctions by saying Hezbollah poses a threat to the U.S. and allies in the Middle East.
Secretary Blinken said that “by hoarding cash that is desperately needed by the Lebanese economy, Hezbollah seeks to build its own support base and compromise the stability of the Lebanese state.”
The U.S. expanded its sanctions on Hezbollah in 2020 by blacklisting former transport and finance ministers to provide financial help to the group, which has been finding ways around U.S. sanctions for years.
The U.S. sanctioned top Lebanese politician and Hezbollah ally Gebran Bassil last year, making him the highest-profile target of anti-Hezbollah sanctions to date.
A former Lebanese foreign minister and current President Michel Aoun’s son-in-law and head of the party with the largest bloc in parliament, the Free Patriotic Movement, Bassil, is considered a leading potential candidate for president in the next elections in two years.
Although the U.S. and other nations have designated Hezbollah as a “terrorist” organization, ten countries, including China, Russia, Iran, and Syria, assert that they do not consider Hezbollah, a terrorist organization.