White House says Hezbollah conducts itself like 'drug cartel'; Two Lebanese money exchange firms blacklisted after laundering funds for Shiite group
Published: 04.25.13, 01:51
WASHINGTON – The White House blasted the Hezbollah, saying it was running itself like a "drug cartel," and blacklisted two Lebanese firms for allegedly laundering money through the US financial system to transfer funds to the Shiites.
"Hezbollah is operating like a major drug cartel," said Derek Maltz, a special agent with the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He added that the Shiite group's "proceeds are funding violence against Americans."
Maltz also announced that the US Treasury had blacklisted two Lebanese money exchange firms for moving millions of dollars to Hezbollah through the US, citing "primary money laundering concerns."
According to Maltz, Haitham Rmeiti, "a key facilitator for wiring money and transferring Hezbollah funds," moved nearly $30 million to the Hezbollah via the US, using his company, Kassem Rmeiti & Co. for Exchange, to do so.
The second firm, Halawi Exchange Co., has transferred over $220 million to the militant organization.
These recent announcements by the American administration reflect the Treasury's efforts to stop the Hezbollah's access to funding run through the US.
In 2011, the United States blacklisted the Lebanese Canadian Bank, after it was revealed that the financial institution was involved in a scheme to launder profits from narcotics dealing and other criminal activities.