US used cars_311.
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
NEW YORK - Three Lebanese financial institutions linked to Hezbollah laundered over $240 million through the United States used car market, federal prosecutors accused on Thursday.
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The civil forfeiture claim by US prosecutors in New York accused the Lebanese Canadian Bank and two money exchange companies of buying and shipping used cars from the United States to West Africa. There, the cars were sold and the cash smuggled into Lebanon by people acting as money couriers, often working for Hezbollah, court documents said.
Washington considers Hezbollah, backed by Iran and Syria, a terrorist
group. US Drug Enforcement Administration officials say that the
Lebanese group has become increasingly involved in the drug trade,
facilitating the distribution and sale of cocaine in West Africa.
February, the US Treasury department designated the Lebanese Canadian
Bank as a "primary money laundering concern." The privately owned bank
was subsequently merged with the Lebanese subsidiary of Societe
In February, Georges Zard Abou Jaoude, chairman and
general manager of Lebanese Canadian Bank (LCB) said, "To the best of
our knowledge I can confirm that we have no clients related in any way
to the crimes mentioned by the American Treasury."