By Perry Chiaramonte* [caption id="attachment_41079" align="alignleft" width="612"] A new report alleges that several 2011 transactions at the Congo-based BGFIBank DRC involved companies that had been linked to Kassim Tajideen—a Lebanese-Belgian businessman who was designated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.[/caption] One of the most prominent banks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo may have been diverting assets to enable financiers of terrorism avoid U.S. sanctions, an explosive new report says.
The report, entitled “The Terrorists’ Treasury,” was published Monday by The Sentry, an initiative of actor George Clooney and human rights activist John Prendergast. It raises red flags about several transactions in 2011 at BGFIBank DRC, a bank operated by the brother of Congo President Joseph Kabila.The Sentry alleges that the transactions involved companies with links to Kassim Tajideen — a Lebanese-Belgian businessman who was added to the U.S. government’s sanction list in 2009 for his support of the Hezbollah terrorist organization. The nonprofit says the transactions took place despite warnings from bank employees who said they might violate the U.S. sanctions. The transactions showed that BGFIBank had made wire transfers on behalf of several subsidiaries of a Tajideen company, Congo Futur, which had accounts at the bank, and was also on the U.S. sanctions list. The Sentry investigators say they became aware of the transactions as they were investigating separate allegations that BGFIBank had been used to divert public funds, including millions in withdrawals by Congo’s electoral commission.
In March, Tajideen was arrested and charged by federal prosecutors in Washington with fraud, conspiracy, money laundering and violating global terrorism sanctions. It’s alleged that he evaded the sanctions imposed on him because of his financial support of Hezbollah. His arrest was part of “Project Cassandra,” a Drug Enforcement Administration two-year probe targeting Hezbollah’s global support network. “Because of his support for Hezbollah, a major international terrorist group, the U.S. government imposed sanctions on Kassim Tajideen in 2009 that barred him from doing business with U.S. individuals and companies,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco said in announcing Tajideen’s arrest. “Those sanctions are a powerful tool in our efforts to combat terrorists and those who would support them,” he said. “Indeed, the sanctions posed such a significant threat to Tajideen’s extensive business interests that he allegedly went to great lengths to evade them by hiding his identity from the U.S. entities he did business with, and from the government agencies responsible for enforcing the sanctions.” The indictment accused Tajideen of concealing his activities to the Treasury on three separate occasions in 2010, 2012 and 2014, according to The Washington Post. Last November, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Justice Department was looking into whether a U.S.-based company had tried to mask sales of wheat-flour to firms that were linked to Tajideen. Tajideen has pleaded not guilty. The Sentry’s Mailey says his team did not go out looking for sanction-busting, but the discovery has serious implications. “Even a Lebanese terrorist financier operating in Africa was making transactions using the U.S. dollar,” he said. “That shows the might of our currency. “This is not an immovable object,” Mailey said. “This is something that the U.S. can stop completely.” *Source Fox News
This is something that the U.S. can stop completely.