An elaborate ploy has been revealed involving the Hezbollah terrorist organization and the buying and selling of used cars in addition to connections with the Lebanese Canadian Bank as well as two Lebanese exchange houses, Hassan Ayash Exchange Co. and Ellissa Holding, which laundered more than $480 million for Hezbollah.
Hezbollah allegedly bought used cars in the United States and flipped them for profits in West Africa. Then, capital accumulated from car sales and drug trafficking were delivered back to Lebanon via Hezbollah’s channels.
According to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, “The intricate scheme laid out in today’s complaint reveals the deviously creative ways that terrorist organizations are funding themselves and moving their money, and it puts into stark relief the nexus between narcotics trafficking and terrorism.”
In February, the U.S. Treasury Department identified the Lebanese Canadian Bank as a “financial institution of primary money laundering concern,” which prompted U.S. financial institutions to cut their ties from the bank, making it impossible for money to be sent from Lebanese Canadian to the U.S.
Lebanon based Hezbollah was identified as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997 by U.S. President Bill Clinton.