US sanctions on a “Lebanese network” accused of laundering money

A picture taken on August 2, 2017 during a tour guided by the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement shows one of the group's fighters flying the group's flag as he sits in a four-wheel drive vehicle carrying a recoilless rifle, in a mountainous area around the Syrian town of Flita near the border with Lebanon. / AFP PHOTO / LOUAI BESHARA (Photo credit should read LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — The United States said on Thursday it had imposed targeted sanctions on what it described as a “Lebanese network” accused of laundering “drug barons” and contributing to the financing of the Iranian-backed Shi’ite group Hezbollah, which Washington considers a “terrorist” organization.

The treasury said in a statement it had listed on its black list both Qasim Shamas and his money laundering organization and Shams Al-Sirafa, based in Chtaura, eastern Lebanon.

The statement added that the “international network” is laundering large amounts of drug money around the world amounting to “tens of millions of dollars a month” and also “facilitate the transfer of funds for Hezbollah.”

According to the Treasury, the network is also active in Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Spain, the United States, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Venezuela.

Treasury Secretary Segal Mandler said the sanctions were part of an “unprecedented campaign by the administration to prevent Hezbollah and its global terrorist followers from taking advantage of violence, corruption and drug trafficking.”

According to the Treasury, the company “Shams Exchange” licensed by the Central Bank of Lebanon, “despite the old suspicions of the US authorities” on them.

The ministry stressed that it is “determined to work with the Banque du Liban to prevent drug traffickers, money launderers and terrorist groups such as Hezbollah from entering the Lebanese financial system.”

The administration of US President Donald Trump has made Iran its first enemy, accusing the regional Shiite power of destabilizing the Middle East. The administration also imposed tough sanctions on Tehran to cut its revenues, and also targeted its regional allies such as Hezbollah.

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