December 13, 2019

OFAC designates Hizballah-related individuals and entities

The Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Department of the Treasury has designated Nazem Said Ahmad, Saleh Assi, and Tony Saab pursuant to Executive Order 13224, as amended, for providing material assistance to Hizballah and sanctioned members of Hizballah.

According to OFAC, Ahmad, a wealthy diamond dealer based in Beirut, Lebanon, uses companies he controls to launder money for Hizballah, operated businesses in Belgium for the benefit of Hizballah, opened an art gallery in Beirut as a front for laundering money, and played a role in the smuggling of so-called blood diamonds from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Eleven Lebanon-based companies controlled by Ahmad have also been designated.

Saleh Assi, a businessman based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is described by OFAC as having provided financial support to Adham Tabaja, a Hizballah financier designated by OFAC, and as having used his companies to facilitate payments to Tabaja, to engage in tax evasion and money laundering schemes in the DRC, and to launder money through Ahmad’s diamond businesses.  OFAC has also designated six companies and one luxury yacht owned or controlled by Assi in Lebanon and the DRC.

Tony Saab is an accountant employed by Assi, and has, according to OFAC, been involved in the transfer of millions of dollars for Assi’s companies, including payments to Tabaja.

Following these sanctions, US property of the designated persons is blocked, and dealings by US persons or persons within the US involving such property are generally prohibited.  Persons engaging in prohibited transactions may themselves be exposed to sanctions.  In addition, the designated persons are subject to secondary sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 13224, as amended, and the Hizballah Financial Sanctions Regulations, pursuant to which OFAC may restrict or prohibit correspondent or payable through accounts in the US by a foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates transactions for Hizballah.

US Dept of the Treasury press release