BEIRUT: Hezbollah Tuesday strongly denied U.S. Treasury allegations that the party was implicated in money laundering and drug trafficking to finance its activities.
“These accusations are pure lies and comes within the context of a suspicious U.S. campaign to smear the image of Hezbollah through fabrications and false allegations,” the party said in a statement.
The United States, which labels Hezbollah as a terrorist group, has been applying pressure on the Lebanese government, Central Bank and the commercial banks to tighten measures to prevent any suspicious money laundering and drug-related crimes.
All Lebanese banks have vehemently denied claims carried by some U.S. newspapers that they have been hoarding funds from Hezbollah, Iran and the Syrian regime.
These banks have led a counter campaign to explain some of the measures the Central Bank has been taking to tighten supervisions and block any suspicious transactions.
In June, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated four individuals and three entities involved in laundering the proceeds of narcotics trafficking for drug kingpin Ayman Joumaa.
The U.S. Treasury also designated a Colombia-based individual under its terrorism authority, Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, for directing Hezbollah’s fundraising activities in the Americas.
“This individual was previously designated under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act [Kingpin Act] for his role in narcotics-related money laundering. Today’s designations further expose Ayman Joumaa’s network as a major narcotics and money laundering enterprise that has reach throughout the Americas and the Middle East with links to Hezbollah,” the U.S Department of Treasury said.
It added that as with the February 2011 action against Lebanese Canadian Bank, these actions again highlight Hezbollah’s links to major South American narcotics money laundering organizations.
“The Joumaa network is a sophisticated multi-national money laundering ring, which launders the proceeds of drug trafficking for the benefit of criminals and the terrorist group Hezbollah,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen in the statement from the U.S. Treasury.
“We and our partners will continue to aggressively map, expose and disable this network, as we are doing with today’s sanctions,” he added.