US sanctions on alleged Hezbollah financial adviser in Lebanon

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BEIRUT – The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on a high-profile Lebanese economist who allegedly supported the militant group Hezbollah with its financial operations.

The US Treasury announced sanctions against economist and money exchanger Hassan Moukalled; CTEX Exchange, a money service business it owns; and Moukalled’s sons, Rayyan Moukalled and Rani Moukalled, who the Treasury Department said in a statement “helped Hassan Moukalled and his company’s financial operations in support of Hizballah.”

They said Moukalled, who often appears as an economic analyst on local media, “had been working in close coordination with Hizballah’s top financial officials to help Hizballah establish a presence in Lebanon’s finances.” They said he is a financial adviser to the militant group, “carrying out business deals on behalf of the group across the region.” “

The Treasury also said Moukalled’s exchange shop serves as a “financial front company” for Hezbollah.

The sanctions also targeted two other companies owned or controlled by Moukalled, the Lebanese Company for Information and Research (LCIS) and the Lebanese Company for Publication, Media, and Research and Studies (LCPMR).

Reached by phone, Moukalled denied the allegations and said his businesses are “100% above board.” “

This move comes after the US in December imposed terrorism sanctions on two accountants and two companies in Lebanon for providing financial services to Hezbollah.

The sanctions targeted Adel Mohamad Mansour, the executive director of Hezbollah’s al-Qard Al-Hassan group, which was previously sanctioned by the US, as well as another company he is involved with, al-Khobara for Accounting, Monitoring and Investigations.

The sanctions also apply to the company Accounting and Auditing Auditors and one of its agents, Naser Hasan Neser, as well as Hassan Khalil, who the Treasury said has been active in helping Hezbollah get weapons.

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