Law Enforcement Coordination Group-Treasury Hosts Meeting in Washington on Hezbollah finances
12 May 2017, Edited by: Bachir El Nakib, Senior Consultant, Compliance Alert (LLC)
Washington – On May 4-5, 2017, the U.S. Department of the Treasury hosted the fourth meeting of the Law Enforcement Coordination Group (LECG) focused on countering Hezbollah’s illicit activities.
Shifting the spotlight from combating Islamic State and its financing network, officials from around the world gathered in Washington on Monday to discuss better targeting the finances of a more traditional militant group, the Shiite fighters of Hezbollah. Counterterrorism policymakers and practitioners from more than 20 governments – from across the Middle East, South America, Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, and North America – along with Europol and Interpol, participated in this LECG meeting. The LECG session focused on Hezbollah’s terrorist financing-related and criminal activities, and discussed how law enforcement and financial tools, including sanctions, could be most effectively utilized to counter these threats.
“The Law Enforcement Coordination Group is a unique platform that harnesses the expertise and capacity of critical partners across the globe to counter the threat posed by Hizballah,” said Jennifer Fowler, Acting Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing. “We are going to continue to work within the LECG to share information, collaborate, and develop strategies to disrupt Hizballah’s financial activities and support.” Treasury said in a media release.
Participating governments discussed how international cooperation against Hezbollah’s illicit activities could be improved going forward. In addition to Treasury, officials from the U.S. State Department, Justice Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Counterterrorism Centre, and Department of Homeland Security all participated in this meeting.
The meeting serves as a reminder that anti-money laundering professionals must continue to watch for trade-based money laundering and other criminal schemes that generate operational funds for Iran-backed Hezbollah.
"The LECG session focused on (Hezbollah's) financing-related and potential criminal activities, and discussed how law enforcement and financial tools, including sanctions, could be most effectively utilized to counter these threats," Treasury said.
Authorities around the globe "are going to continue to work within the LECG to share information, collaborate, and develop strategies to disrupt" Hezbollah's "financial activities and support," said Jennifer Fowler, Treasury's acting assistant secretary for terrorist financing.
Participants discussed how international cooperation against Hezbollah, which the United States considers a terrorist group, could be improved.
The LECG, which was originally established in 2014, will convene for its 5th meeting in late 2017.
People with ties to Hezbollah could be sanctioned in the near future.
New US financial sanctions could target high-ranking members of the Hezbollah and leaders from other parties close to the Hezbollah, i.e. the Amal movement, The Free Patriotic Movement and the Syrian National Social Party, as soon as next May.
It is said that the sanctions will reach far more people than previous sanctions.
Every people working in the financial sector or who is wealthy and is suspected of financing Hezbollah will be on the list.
For the time being, these are merely rumors, but the decision to impose sanctions will be made next month, and the Lebanese government would send a ministerial delegation to the US to gather more details.
The idea of new sanctions against Hezbollah and their allies is not new: they date back to last February when President Trump announced new sanctions against Iran.
About a month ago, France warned Lebanon about new economic sanctions against Hezbollah and advised them to keep Riad Salame, the governor of the Central Bank to his current position because he knows how to deal with this kind of situations. Contacts were made from within France to intercede in Lebanon’s behalf, because the new sanctions could have a dramatic negative effect on the country.
According to Naji Gharios, a lawmaker from the baabda party and a CPL (Free Patriotic Movement) member, “the new sanctions goal is to put sticks in the Hezbollah’s wheels and facilitate Israel’s work” [Lebanese leaders obsession with Israel never fades]. Gharios add that his party doesn’t fear new sanctions.
Lawmakers Yassine Jaber, Alain Aoun and Bassem el-Chab, who are currently in the US for a World Bank meeting, heard about possible new sanctions, adding that they have no further details.
Ghazi Zeaïter, minister of Agriculture and Amal party member said that he too doesn’t know anything on the subject but that he doesn’t fear any US measures. He denounced « The US diktat and control ».
« They vote new laws to blackmail us and apply pressures on Lebanon every time we are about to get back on our feet », said Zeaïter. Knowing The Kassim Tajideen Accusation
A Beirut businessman accused of presiding over a multibillion-dollar commodities shipping empire and evading U.S. sanctions for financing terrorism pleaded not guilty to an 11-count criminal indictment unsealed in Washington on Thursday.