Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Banjul host sub-regional workshop on fight against Hezbollah’s financial activity

In 2013, Yahya Jammeh expelled a Lebanese mogul whose businesses are blacklisted by the US government for allegedly "funding the Hezbollah movement" and "engaging in money laundering.” Photo Credit: AFP
Banjul is hosting a workshop Wednesday on the fight against Hezbollah’s financial activity in West Africa.

The Gambia is home to an array of business establishments blacklisted by the U.S. State Department over allegations of “providing funds to the ‘terrorist-designated’ Lebanon-based Hezbollah movement.”

Some of those businesses including a chain of supermarkets have “links to [the now defunct] Lebanese Canadian Bank [that was] accused of engaging in money laundering”, according to the U.S. government.

In June 2013, Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh expelled a Lebanese business mogul whose businesses in Gambia have been blacklisted by the US government for allegedly "funding the Hezbollah movement" in Lebanon and "engaging in money laundering.”

He was expelled for being allegedly involved in what the government said were “undesirable business activities which have very serious health and economic consequences to the people and State [of The Gambia].”

The November 15 meeting, organized by the Intergovernmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), and attended by senior anti-money laundering officials in Banjul and the sub-region, is one of three similar events hosted in Banjul.

In February 2018, US autocrat Donald Trump announced new sanctions on six people and seven businesses based in Lebanon, Iraq and West Africa – targeting the Hezbollah’s ‘legal and illegal’ financial networks.

In 2013, the U.S. clamped down on suspected Hezbollah activity in West Africa with targeted sanctions.

It said that while most Lebanese in West Africa have few links to the group, financial sanctions have reduced an annual flow of millions of dollars which Hezbollah receives from people and businesses in the region, according to Reuters.

The U.S. also placed sanctions on Iran which is said to be the main sponsor and armourer of the group.

“(West Africa) is more important in the sense that what they’re getting from Iran is squeezed. Iran’s capacity to fund Hezbollah has been impaired,” David Cohen, U.S. treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence is quoted as saying.

Gambia is hosting GIABA's 30th technical commission and plenary meeting from November 11--16, and its 19th ministerial committee meeting on November 17, both events in Banjul.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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