Arrest by UK counter-terror police ‘linked to art dealer sanctioned over Hezbollah’

Businessman Nazem Ahmad targeted by UK government over his links to the Lebanese terror group

The Metropolitan Police said that it had arrested a 50-year-old man on suspicion of offences under the Terrorism Act. PA
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Counter-terrorism police have made an arrest believed to be linked to a wealthy diamond dealer suspected of financing Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Art collector and businessman Nazem Ahmad was sanctioned by the UK government in order to “defend our economy” and national security, the Treasury said earlier on Tuesday.

Following the announcement of the full asset freeze, the Metropolitan Police said a 50-year-old man had been arrested in Wales on suspicion of offences under Sections 17 and 21A of the Terrorism Act 2000.

He remains in custody at a London police station while searches at two commercial addresses, both in East London, were carried out by officers.

A second man, who is wanted by US authorities for fraud and money laundering offences, was also detained on Tuesday in west London, according to the force.

Sundar Nagarajan, 65, of Hayes, was taken into custody before appearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in the afternoon for commencement of extradition proceedings.

He was remanded to next appear at the same court on 25 April.

Hezbollah was classified as a terrorist group by the UK government in 2019.

Diamond dealer Mr Ahmad, who also has an extensive art collection in Britain and business links with multiple galleries and auction houses, is a suspected funding source for the group.

Detective Chief Superintendent Gareth Rees, of the Met’s counter-terrorism command, said: that the arrests were "a key milestone in what is a complex investigation into terrorist financing".

“Terrorist groups rely on financial support and funding for their activities and the NTFIU (National Terrorism Financing Investigation Unit) works closely with agencies in the UK and around the world to identify and take action against those people who provide and facilitate this funding.

“With our international partners, we will never give up on our mission to disrupt terrorist activity, both in the UK and abroad, in order to keep the public safe.”

Following Ahmad’s designation earlier on Tuesday he will be locked out of the UK art market and other collectors with high-value items will no longer be allowed to trade with him.

Dealers will also be banned from conducting business with his associated companies including White Starr DMCC, Bexley Way General Trading LLC, Best Diamond House DMCC, Sierra Gem Diamonds Company NV, Park Ventures SAL and the Artual Gallery.

Treasury Lords Minister Baroness Penn said: “We will always proactively defend our economy against those who seek to abuse it.

“The firm action we have taken today will clamp down on those who are funding international terrorism, strengthening the UK’s economic and national security.”

The action has been taken as part of efforts to disrupt an international terrorist financing operation, the Treasury said.

Updated: April 19, 2023, 5:02 AM