WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated two key Hizballah financiers operating in Guinea pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended. This action is aimed at disrupting Hizballah’s business network in West Africa, which relies on bribery and influence to circumvent the rule of law. In addition to other sources of funding, Hizballah generates revenue from commercial activities across the world to sponsor acts of terrorism. The designation of these financiers demonstrates Treasury’s ongoing efforts to target the terrorist group’s international commercial activities and its global network of financiers, supporters, donors, and facilitators, which enable Hizballah to persistently threaten the security, stability, and prosperity of Lebanon and other jurisdictions.
“With this action, Treasury continues to expose businessmen who support Hizballah’s destabilizing activities through bribes and other corrupt activity,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “The illicit financial activity of those designated today not only props up Hizballah, but also undermines the legitimate commercial sector and rule of law in countries where such financial activity takes place.”
OFAC is designating Ali Saade and Ibrahim Taher under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended, which targets terrorists, leaders, and officials of terrorist groups, and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. The United States designated Hizballah as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) on October 31, 2001.
ALI SAADE AND IBRAHIM TAHER’S FINANCING OF HIZBALLAH
Ali Saade (Saade) and Ibrahim Taher (Taher) are prominent Lebanese businessmen with direct connections to Hizballah. Saade initiates the money transfers from Guinea to Hizballah, transferring funds through Hizballah representatives in Guinea and Lebanon. Taher has been identified as one of the most prominent financial supporters of Hizballah in Guinea. He is believed to employ a number of individuals affiliated with Hizballah within the country.
Saade and Taher are being designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, Hizballah.
SAADE’S SUPPORT TO DESIGNATED HIZBALLAH FINANCIER KASSEM TAJIDEEN
Saade has a close relationship with designated Hizballah supporter Kassem Tajideen (Tajideen) whom OFAC designated in 2009 for being an important financial contributor to Hizballah. At the time of his designation, Tajideen had contributed tens of millions of dollars to Hizballah and ran cover companies for Hizballah in Africa with his brothers.
Saade was Tajideen’s primary political contact in Guinea. He made significant efforts to provide Tajideen with unrestricted access to corrupt members of the former Guinean administration at the highest levels and the rest of the Guinean government. Saade also advised Tajideen on methods for making financial transfers to evade detection by regulators.
TAHER’S OTHER ILLICIT ACTIVITIES IN GUINEA
Taher and an associate sent U.S. dollars collected at one of their commercial facilities to Conakry Airport and bribed Guinean customs officials to allow their currency to pass in luggage. Taher has used his status as an Honorary Consul of Lebanon to Cote d’Ivoire to travel in and out of Guinea with minimal scrutiny.
As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the individuals named above, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly 50 percent or more by them, individually, or with other blocked persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons, must be blocked and reported to OFAC. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC or otherwise exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within the United States (including transactions transiting the United States) that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons. The prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.
Furthermore, engaging in certain transactions with the individuals designated today entails risk of secondary sanctions pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended. Pursuant to this authority, OFAC can prohibit or impose strict conditions on the opening or maintaining in the United States of a correspondent account or a payable-through account of a foreign financial institution that knowingly conducted or facilitated any significant transaction on behalf of an SDGT.
The power and integrity of OFAC sanctions derive not only from its ability to designate and add persons to the SDN List, but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish, but to bring about a positive change in behavior. For information concerning the process for seeking removal from an OFAC list, including the SDN List, please refer to OFAC’s Frequently Asked Question 897. For detailed information on the process to submit a request for removal from an OFAC sanctions list .