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U.S. sanctions Lebanese businessman accused of funding Hezbollah

U.S. sanctions Lebanese businessman accused of funding Hezbollah
Treasury under Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday sanctioned six people and eight companies on accusations they fund Hezbollah. Photo by Graeme Jennings/UPI | License Photo

May 20 (UPI) -- The Biden administration has sanctioned a Lebanese businessman and his network of associates and companies that he is accused of using to fund the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group.

The Treasury Department said its action Thursday brings to light Hezbollah's use of seemingly legitimate businesses to generate revenue, including how it creates companies with opaque ownership to conceal its involvement.

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"Hezbollah has built a web of businesses to hide its activities and generate funds for its destabilizing activities, all at the expense of accountability and public safety in Lebanon and the region," Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial intelligence Brian Nelson said in a statement.

The Treasury identified Ahmad Abdallah for sanctioning on accusations he has supported the terrorist group for decades by conducting "extensive commercial activities" in several countries, the profits from which he has sent to the terrorist organization.

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He is accused of using his network to establish companies in the Middle East that are perceived less likely to be sanctioned, including in the food industry, to fund Hezbollah.

Five of his associates and eight companies in Lebanon and Iraq were also hit with sanctions on Thursday, freezing their U.S. assets and barring U.S. citizens from doing business with them.

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Abdallah has also been accused of working with U.S. sanctioned Hezbollah facilitators and has received help to transfer funds from his businesses by the U.S. blacklisted Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, an elite branch of the Iranian armed forces.

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"Hezbollah structures companies to disguise its ownership and make the companies appear legitimate," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. "Through actions like those carried out today, we continue to counter Hezbollah's exploitation of businesses to fund its terrorist activities and its efforts to destabilize Lebanon and the wider region."

The United States designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization in October of 1997.

The sanctions were imposed a day after Hezbollah's Iran-aligned political party lost its majority in Lebanon's Parliament.

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