Published on Aug 21, 2012 by SDAMatt2a
Erick Stakelbeck joins Michael Coren to discuss money laudering from within the West to Hizb’Allah.
The $150 million seized by American authorities in an international Hezbollah-linked money-laundering scheme that involved the now-defunct Lebanese Canadian Bank has “no Canadian connection,” the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says.
The U.S. treasury department and DEA said the Lebanese Canadian Bank (LCB) acted as a conduit funnelling funds through numerous countries into the hands of Hezbollah, a Shia militant group and political party in Lebanon.
The DEA said at least $329 million was wire transferred from the bank and others to the U.S. for used cars that were shipped to West Africa. Cash from the car sales was sent to Lebanon through Hezbollah-controlled channels.
“As we alleged last year, the Lebanese Canadian Bank played a key role in facilitating money laundering for Hezbollah-controlled organizations across the globe,” Michele M. Leonhart, administrator of the DEA, said in a statement Monday.
The LCB has a Montreal office, but the institution is based in Beirut.
However, the bank had a “representative office” in Canada, meaning they were barred from receiving deposits and making transfers. LCB was only allowed to promote the services it provided in Lebanon.
Its license was revoked last year by Finance Canada after a complaint was filed in the U.S. about the LCB’s activities.
Rusty Payne of the DEA’s public affairs office said none of the money transferred through the LCB was sourced in Canada.
“There is no Canadian connection,” Payne told QMI Agency.
But that doesn’t mean Hezbollah isn’t active in Canada.
Matthew Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, says the group has an extensive network in Canada and it conducts primarily procurement work – purchasing dual-use technologies, for example, and redistributing them back to Hezbollah.
In December 2011, Hezbollah’s secretary general Hassan Nasrallah was asked about the group’s presence in Canada.
“Yes,” Nasrallah responded and Levitt reported in a paper. “Hezbollah has members in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto; in all of Canada.”
In one of Levitt’s reports, he says in addition to fundraising and espionage, Hezbollah has activated sleeper cells in Canada.
“But they’re primarily using North America as a cash cow,” Levitt said.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney for the southern district of New York Preet Bharara said the investigation and seizure of money on Tuesday is a big step in fighting terrorism.
“Money is the lifeblood of terrorist and narcotics organizations, and while banks which launder money for terrorists and narco-traffickers may be located abroad, today’s announcement demonstrates that those banks and their assets are not beyond our reach,” Bharara said.
Both the Canadian and U.S. government designate the radical Islamist group Hezbollah a terrorist organization.