The United States Treasury Department has sanctioned seven Lebanese people connected to Hezbollah and its banking arm for illicitly transferring $500m on behalf of the Iran-backed group.
On Tuesday, the US Treasury named Ibrahim Ali Daher, the chief of Hezbollah’s finance operation, and six other men who allegedly used personal accounts at Lebanese banks, including the Jammal Trust Bank, to evade US sanctions.
The other six individuals named are Ahmad Mohamad Yazbeck, Abbas Hassan Gharib, Wahid Mahmud Subayti, Mostafa Habib Harb, Ezzat Youssef Akar, and Hasan Shehadeh Othman.
The US action blocks any assets the individuals may hold in US financial institutions and prevents future interbank transactions involving the US banking system and correspondent banks worldwide.
The sanctions came as Lebanon, where Hezbollah is an established political party, has been undergoing a continuing economic and political crisis. A spokesman for Hezbollah could not be reached immediately for comment.
The seven men “have all participated in evasive ‘shadow’ banking activity” through Hezbollah’s financial firm Al-Qard al-Hassan, the Treasury said in a statement.
“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,” Andrea Gacki, the US Treasury’s Director of Foreign Assets Control, said in the department’s statement.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement in support of the sanctions saying Hezbollah poses a threat to the US and its allies in the Middle East. “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”, Secretary Blinken said.