Thursday, December 15, 2011
Prosecutors Say Hezbollah Laundered $300 Million In U.S. Buying Used Cars and Shiping Them to West Africa for Resale
FOX NEWS NEW YORK – Federal authorities blamed Lebanese financial institutions Thursday for wiring more than $300 million into the United States in a money-laundering scheme they said used the U.S. financial system to benefit the militant group Hezbollah. The U.S. government said in the lawsuit filed in a Manhattan federal court that it seeks nearly a half-billion dollars in money-laundering penalties from some Lebanese financial entities, 30 U.S. car buyers and a U.S. shipping company. It also said it's entitled to claim their assets as forfeitable under U.S. money-laundering laws
Prosecutors said the $300 million was wired from Lebanon to the United States and used to buy used cars and ship them to West Africa. They said Hezbollah money-laundering channels were used to ship proceeds from the car sales and narcotics trafficking back to Lebanon. In connection with the filing of the complaint, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York submitted an application for a restraining order that would prohibit the transfer, sale, or dissipation of the assets of approximately 30 U.S. car buyers (USED CAR DEALERS) and a U.S. shipping company and related entities, and requiring these U.S. car buyers (USED CAR DEALERS) to provide an accounting of their assets.
The accusations came two days after an indictment in federal court in Virginia accused fugitive Ayman Joumaa of leading a drug conspiracy that provided income for Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group that the U.S. has branded a terrorist organization. From approximately Jan. 1, 2007, to early 2011, at least $329 million was transferred by wire from LCB, the Hassan Ayash Exchange Company, the Ellissa Exchange Company and other Lebanese financial institutions, including Middle East and Africa Bank, the Federal Bank of Lebanon and BLOM Bank, to the United States for the purchase and shipment of used cars.
The car buyers in the United States typically had little or no property or assets other than the bank accounts used to receive the overseas wire transfers. The cars were primarily shipped to Cotonou, Benin, where they were housed and sold from large car parks, including one owned by the Ellissa Group, a subsidiary of Ellissa Holding. A Washington-based Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman, Lawrence R. Payne, told The Associated Press in February that Joumaa's organization laundered money using 30 used car lots in the United States. Cars were exported to Lebanon and West Africa.
World Auto Sales on Green Springs Avenue in Birmingham AL is mentioned in the complaint. Of the dealerships mentioned, World Auto has the second highest dollar total of wire transfers, with 490 transactions totaling $24,064,172. According to the company website, World Auto Sales was founded in 1990 by Ahmad and Bassam Hammoud “to accommodate the growing need for quality wholesale and export vehicles to the World.”
Two Maryland Businesses Used Car lots Used in Hezbollah Money Laundering Scheme, Forty-three wires totaling $2,157,047 were sent to ARZ Export and 193 wires totaling $7,150,253 went to Hijazi General Trading, according to court documents. Proceeds from the sale of the cars and cocaine in West Africa were sent back to Lebanon, according to court documents. A significant portion of the money went to Hezbollah.
SEE COMPLAINT AT LINK http://www.justice.gov/dea/pubs/pressrel/pr121511_filed-complaint.pdf
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the civil case brought Thursday reveals a massive international scheme in which Lebanese financial institutions, including banks and two exchange houses linked to Hezbollah, passed money through the U.S. financial system to launder narcotics trafficking and other criminal proceeds through West Africa and back into Lebanon.
Luxury Autos Bought In US With Drug Profits Shipped to West Africa and Resold For Double The Price 100% Profit On “Washed Drug Money” for Hezbollah, The Cars Are The Cash. U.S. blacklists Lebanese Canadian Bank for alleged ties to Hezbollah. Washington has blacklisted the Beirut-based Lebanese Canadian Bank, alleging it is a money-laundering front for a criminal network that is said to be moving hundreds of millions of dollars in drug money via stolen Luxury vehicles, including some of it to Hezbollah militants.
The criminal gang was using cocaine money to buy Luxury cars in the U.S., the vehicles were exported to West Africa, where they are resold for up to double their value, with the proceeds going back to Lebanon. The “dirty” money from the drug slaes is effectively “washed” by purchasing the Luxury cars for cash, no cash goes into any bank for crutiny by the Fed’s, “The Cars Become The Cash” and when exported and resold for double what the gang paid, you make a 100% profit on your drug sales, nice deal.
The criminal gang in question is said to be “Drug King-pin Ayman Joumaa and his Lebanon-based drug trafficking and money laundering network,” They were themselves blacklisted by U.S. officials last month and its alleged that LBC is their preferred money-laundering vehicle, to the tune of up to $200-million a month. This same, “dirty” money from the drug slaes is effectively “washed” by purchasing the Luxury cars for cash, no cash goes into any bank for crutiny by the Fed’s, “The Cars Are The Cash” and when exported and resold for double what the gang paid, you make a 100% profit on your drug sales, program has been running in the Tampa Fl area since at least June of 2002.
Bill Warner Sarasota Private Investigator, SEX, CRIME, CHEATERS & TERRORISM at www.wbipi.com