LCB, two exchange firms face US lawsuit
US seeks $483 million in penalties for alleged money-laundering scheme
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The US has filed a civil lawsuit (on December 15) against the Lebanese Canadian Bank (LCB) and two local money exchange firms on charges of their involvement in an alleged money-laundering operation linked to Hezbollah.

The two money exchange firms were identified as the Hassan Ayash Exchange Company and Ellissa Holding. Both firms were mentioned in the US’ money-laundering charges against LCB last February.

The lawsuit, filed by a New York District Attorney, claimed that funds were wired from Lebanon to the US to buy used cars. It said that the cars were then transported to West Africa. “Cash from the sale of the cars, along with proceeds of narcotics trafficking, were then funneled to Lebanon through Hezbollah controlled money laundering channels,” it claimed.

The US complaint seeks to freeze and take hold of the assets of LCB, the Hassan Ayash Exchange, and Ellissa Holding, as well as 30 US car dealers and a US shipping company. It also seeks around $483 million in penalties from these entities.

According to the complaint, at least $329 million was allegedly transferred, between 2007 and early 2011, from LCB, the two exchange firms, as well as other financial institutions, including Middle East and Africa Bank (MEAB), the Federal Bank of Lebanon, and BLOM Bank.

The complaint did not make any reference to SGBL, which bought the assets of LCB in August.

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Date Posted: Dec 16, 2011