The U.S. Treasury Department on Wednesday imposed sanctions on Wael Bazzi and Hassan Tabaja, who are relatives and business associates of key Hizballah financiers.
The two men and the three companies sanctioned Wednesday acted as conduits for sanctions-evasion schemes involving Mohammad Bazzi and Adham Tabaja, the Treasury said. The designations mark the latest escalation by the Trump administration against Hizballah, the sanctioned Lebanese group supported by Iran: Earlier this week, the U.S. State Department offered up to $10 million for information on three key Hizballah facilitators as part of its Rewards for Justice Program leading to the disruption of its financial network.
“As Hizballah continues to attempt to obscure its activities by using seemingly legitimate businesses, we will continue to take action against the front persons who hide the movement of money, including the relatives of designated terrorists,” said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury under secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.
Hassan Tabaja was sanctioned for acting on behalf of his brother Adham Tabaja, the Treasury said. Adham was sanctioned in June 2015 as a member of Hizballah and for serving as a key financier and facilitator of the group; his companies have been used by Hizballah as an investment mechanism, and he maintains direct ties to senior Hizballah organizations, including Islamic Jihad, according to the Treasury.
Hassan is a legal representative and has power of attorney for Adham, the Treasury said. As such, Hassan has the power to make legal, real estate and financial decisions for his brother, including the authority to sign for business matters. In addition, Hassan managed multiple properties in the United Arab Emirates belonging to Adham, though Emirati authorities “took swift action” in the summer of 2018 against him and the assets he controls, the Treasury said.
Adham also maintains ties to Mohammad Ibrahim Bazzi, who the U.S. sanctioned in May 2018 for providing financial support to Hizballah, according to the Treasury. Both Adham and Bazzi were named in this week’s reward notice.
Bazzi’s son, Wael Bazzi, was sanctioned for acting on behalf of his father, the Treasury said. Mohammad was also a close associate of Yahya Jammeh, the former Gambian leader sanctioned by the U.S. for corruption and human-rights abuses. Since his designation, Mohammad turned to his son to continue doing business in the Gambia, relying on him to register new companies and bid on Gambian government contracts, the Treasury said. Wael also helped his father and a Lebanon-based associate facilitate payments for a business contract, the Treasury said.