BEIRUT — The US Treasury said in a statement issued on Tuesday that it was placing sanctions on Lebanese money exchanger Hassan Moukalled and his business for alleged financial ties to blacklisted group Hezbollah.
The Treasury said his business, CTEX, was licensed by Lebanon's central bank. Neither Moukalled nor the central bank immediately responded to Reuters' requests for comment.
The Treasury said in the statement that Moukalled, plays a key role in enabling Hezbollah to continue “to exploit and exacerbate Lebanon’s economic crisis.”
The Treasury is also “designating CTEX Exchange, a money service business owned by Hassan Moukalled, in addition to Hassan Moukalled’s sons, Rayyan Moukalled and Rani Moukalled, who facilitate Hassan Moukalled and his company’s financial activities in support of Hezbollah,” the statement said.
The Treasury went on to accuse Moukalled of being a “corrupt money exchanger, whose financial engineering actively supports and enables Hezballah and its interests at the expense of the Lebanese people and economy.”
Who is Hassan Moukalled?
Hassan Moukalled is a Lebanon-based economist and financial advisor to Hezbollah, who has worked “in close coordination” with senior Hezbollah financial officials to help the party to “establish a presence in Lebanon’s financial system,” the US Treasury’s statement said.
The statement also said that he represents Hezbollah in negotiations with potential investors, partners and even foreign government officials.
“Moukalled has coordinated a wide range of issues including business deals involving Russia, as well as efforts to assist Hezbollah in obtaining weaponry,” the statement added.
He had also worked as an “intermediary for negotiations between the central bank and Hezbollah.”
Moukalled is being designated for having “materially assisted, sponsored or provided financial, material or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, Hezbollah.”
CTEX and Banque du Liban
As of mid-2021, Moukalled has reportedly established “on behalf of Hezbollah, CTEX as a financial front company in Beirut.”
Senior Hezballah financial official Muhammad Qasir and his deputy Muhammad Qasim al-Bazzal were reportedly behind the establishment of CTEX. In mid-2021, Moukalled received a license from Lebanon’s central bank for CTEX to transfer money within Lebanon and abroad, and within a year the company had obtained significant market share within Lebanon’s currency transfer sector and was reportedly collecting millions of US dollars for the central bank of Lebanon.
At the same time, CTEX was also providing US dollars to Hezbollah institutions and recruiting money changers loyal to Hezbollah. Moukalled advocates for CTEX directly to the central bank governor and receives commissions in the hundreds of thousands of dollars daily.
As Lebanon and its economy faced a dire and ongoing financial crisis in mid-2022, Moukalled was working with Hezbollah officials to “capitalize on investors’ and expatriates’ efforts to make money in the Lebanese financial sector and transfer cash out of Lebanon. Moukalled was also working to expand CTEX outside of Lebanon,” the statement claimed.
Rayyan and Rani Moukalled
As of mid-2022, Rani Moukalled and his brother Rayyan Moukalled were among several individuals authorized by their father, Hassan Moukalled, to engage in cash transactions on behalf of CTEX with the central bank of Lebanon, according to the Treasury’s statement.
Rayyan Moukalled is being sanctioned for having “materially assisted, sponsored or provided financial, material or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, Hassan Moukalled.”
“Rani Moukalled is being designated for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, CTEX,” the statement explained.
Aftermath of the sanctions
“As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the individuals and entities named above, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly 50 percent or more by them, individually, or with other blocked persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons, must be blocked and reported,” the statement concluded.
BEIRUT — The US Treasury said in a statement issued on Tuesday that it was placing sanctions on Lebanese money exchanger Hassan Moukalled and his business for alleged financial ties to blacklisted group Hezbollah.The Treasury said his business, CTEX, was licensed by Lebanon's central bank. Neither Moukalled nor the central bank immediately responded to Reuters' requests for...