US sanctions Hezbollah accountants and weapons buyers in Lebanon

It is the latest in a line of financial penalties designed to thwart the terrorist group

The US has taken further action against Hezbollah, led by Hassan Nasrallah. AFP
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The US has announced further sanctions on individuals and companies accused of providing financial services or helping with weapons procurement for Hezbollah.

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned two people and two companies based in Lebanon for providing financial services to Hezbollah, and one person involved in facilitating weapons procurement for the group, it said in a statement.

“The individuals and companies being designated today have enabled Hezbollah's financial apparatus operating throughout Lebanon,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson.

“Their public personae as financial professionals and institutions is just another way Hezbollah hides its abuse of the financial system to support its destabilising agenda.”

Those sanctioned on Thursday were Adel Mohamad Mansour, who the US says led a Hezbollah-run quasi-financial institution; Hassan Khalil, who is said to have worked to procure weapons on behalf of Hezbollah, and Naser Hassan Neser, who worked with an entity that provided financial services to the group.

The two companies sanctioned on Thursday for providing financial services to Hezbollah were named Al Khobara and Auditors for Accounting and Auditing, known simply as Auditors.

The company is run by Mr Mansour and the US said it provided services to and operates out of the building of Al-Qard Al-Hassan, a charity-licensed banking institution formerly run by Mr Mansour and previously sanctioned by the US for being a Hezbollah front.

“Other senior officials at Al Khobara include US-designated senior Hezbollah official Hussein Al Shami, who previously headed AQAH and another US-designated Hezbollah financial institution, Bayt Al Mal, as well as Ahmad Yazbeck, who was designated in May 2021 for acting for or on behalf of AQAH,” the US said.

The US said Auditors was designated as it is owned, controlled or directed by Ibrahim Baher, who was designated in May 2021 for being a member of Hezbollah and the head of its central finance unit.

Mr Neser worked in Auditors alongside Mr Baher.

Founded in 1982 by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and classified by the US and other Western countries as a “terrorist organisation,” Hezbollah is a powerful group in Lebanon because of a heavily armed militia that fought several wars with Israel.

It grew stronger after joining the war in Syria in 2012 in support of President Bashar Al Assad.

OFAC regulations generally prohibit all dealings by “US persons” or within the US that involve any property or interests in property of designated entities.

Last month, the US issued sanctions against an international oil smuggling network it said supports Hezbollah and Iran's Quds Force, targeting dozens of people, companies and tankers.

Updated: December 02, 2022, 6:15 AM