WASHINGTON, Sept 17 (Reuters) – The United States said on Friday it was imposing sanctions on Lebanon and Kuwait-based financial conduits that fund the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah as well as financial facilitators and front companies that support the group and Iran.
Among individuals designated and sanctioned, the U.S. Treasury said the measures apply to businessman Morteza Minaye Hashemi, who lives in China and who had funneled money to Iran‘s Quds Force. Two Chinese nationals had helped Hashemi establish bank accounts and served as straw owners for his companies, which were based in Hong Kong and mainland China, according to a Treasury news release.
It named the Chinese nationals as Yan Su Xuan and Song Jing. The statement said Yan Su Xuan, on Hashemi’s behalf, also purchased U.S.-origin, dual-use products for onward shipment to Iran.
“Together, these networks have laundered tens of millions of dollars through regional financial systems and conducted currency exchange operations and trade in gold and electronics for the benefit of both Hezbollah and the IRGC-QF,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement, referring to Iran‘s Quds force, the arm of its Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) that controls its allied militia abroad.
“Hezbollah uses revenues generated by these networks to fund terrorist activities and to perpetuate instability in Lebanon and throughout the region,” the statement said.
Blinken said Hezbollah was increasingly looking for additional sources of revenue to bolster its coffers and he called on governments around the world to take steps to ensure it and other terrorist groups do not exploit their territory and financial institutions.
“The United States will not relent in targeting these networks, and we will continue to take actions to disrupt their activities,” he said.
The Treasury Department said the sanctions action would involve the seizure of U.S.-based property of the individuals and entities and prohibit all transactions with them.
(Reporting by Lisa Lambert, David Brunnstrom and Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Mark Porter)