JERUSALEM, Israel - A Lebanese business mogul designated by US authorities as a key financier of the Hezbollah terror group, was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to forfeit $50 million after pleading guilty of trying to evade US sanctions.
Kassim Tajideen, 63, who runs a network of businesses in Lebanon and Africa, pleaded guilty to a US federal court in December to one count of conspiracy to launder money to avoid sanctions the US imposed on him.
In 2009, the US designated Tajideen as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist after He gave tens of millions of dollars to Hezbollah. This measure froze his US assets and barred Americans from doing any business with him.
However, after his designation, Tajideen conspired with at least five other people to conduct over $50 million in transactions with U.S. businesses that violated these sanctions. He and his co-conspirators also engaged in transactions outside of the United States, including transactions of as much at $1 billion.
"This defendant knowingly violated sanctions and put our nation's security at risk," said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Criminal Division. "His sentencing and the $50 million forfeiture in this case are just the latest public examples of the Department of Justice's ongoing efforts to disrupt and dismantle Hezbollah and its support networks."
"Today's sentencing highlights our efforts to prosecute those who violate sanctions meant to stem the flow of money to terrorist groups," said U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu for the District of Columbia. "Our message to those who violate sanctions is that you will be found, and you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."
Tajideen's case falls under the Drug Enforcement Administration's "Project Cassandra", which targets Hezbollah's global criminal support network.
"This is the latest example of DEA's success against Hezbollah's global criminal support network and our commitment to interagency collaboration in combatting the overall threat posed by this transnational criminal organization," said Acting Special Agent in Charge of DEA's Special Operations Division Michael J. Machak.
The US designated Hezbollah a terror organization in 1997, therefore making it illegal for Americans to do business with members of the group.