The U.S. on Friday imposed sanctions on an international financial network affilated with the Hezbollah terrorist group, which it said was evading primary sanctions to “gain access to material and financial support through the legitimate commercial sector.”
The U.S. Treasury Department in a statement said that three Lebanese nationals and 10 companies had been sanctioned, including Adnan Ayad, a Lebanon-based Hezbollah member and businessman, Ayad’s business partner Adel Diab, and Ali Mohamad Daoun.
“These financial facilitators have helped Hizballah obtain funds through networks of companies that disguise themselves as legitimate businesses,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. “The sanctions evasion efforts of those designated today are a stark example of how Hizballah abuses the international financial system to fund its acts of terrorism and illicit activities.”
Hezbollah’s “widespread network of financial facilitators has helped the group exploit Lebanon’s financial resources and survive the current economic crisis,” the Treasury said.
In the statement, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said that the business network was used to exploit the current crisis in Lebanon.
“Today’s action exposes and targets Hizballah’s misuse of the international financial system to raise and launder funds for its destabilizing activities as the Lebanese people suffer during an unprecedented economic crisis in Lebanon,” Nelson said.
“Treasury is committed to disrupting Hizballah’s illicit activity and attempts to evade sanctions through business networks while the group doubles down on corrupt patronage networks in Lebanon,” Nelson added.
Lebanon is struggling with its biggest ever financial crisis, with large portions of the population now below the poverty line.