Lebanese Businessman Sentenced for Laundering Money Tied to Sanctions Evasion | Kharon The Kharon Brief

Lebanese Businessman Sentenced for Laundering Money Tied to Sanctions Evasion

Kassim Tajideen, a Lebanese businessman sanctioned in 2009 as a financier of Hizballah, was sentenced in U.S. federal court to five years in prison and ordered to forfeit $50 million.

Tajideen pleaded guilty in December to a count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments involving the evasion of sanctions. After he was designated, Tajideen conspired with at least five others to conduct more than $50 million in transactions with U.S. businesses that violated sanctions, prosecutors said. He also engaged in transactions outside the U.S. involving transmissions of as much as $1 billion through the U.S. financial system, prosecutors said.

“This defendant knowingly violated sanctions and put our nation’s security at risk,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Tajideen, along with his brothers Ali and Husayn, had presided over Tajco, a conglomerate involved in international trade and real estate, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. He supported Hizballah through a network of businesses in Lebanon and Africa, the Treasury said in 2009. 

Despite the sanctions, Tajideen and his brothers continued doing business, according to reporting in The Wall Street Journal. Tajideen denied any involvement with Hizballah, telling the Journal that he had nothing to do with the group; he maintained in his guilty plea that the sanctions imposed on him were improper.

The businesses associated with Tajideen operated in a wide variety of sectors. One network developed a high-rise building project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kharon reported in December. A Gambian supermarket, Kairaba Shopping Center (KSC), was sanctioned by the Treasury as a subsidiary of Tajco. 

Mexican companies as recently as 2017 shipped goods to Congolese companies that served as successors to Tajideen’s companies, showing how Hizballah supporters establish new entities and obscure their supply chains to continue operations after they’re sanctioned.

Last month, the Treasury sanctioned two Hizballah lawmakers, as well as the Hizballah operative behind the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires, Argentina.