The PJ Tatler

It's a Bad Day to be a Hizballah Banker

UK-based Standard Chartered Bank has been hit with a huge lawsuit in New York for its alleged dealings with the mullahcracy in Iran. The lawsuit ultimately amounts to a bad day for terrorist army Hizballah as well.

Standard Chartered bank ran a rogue unit that schemed with Iran‘s government to hide more than $250bn (£160bn) in illegal transactions for nearly a decade, according to a scathing report by New York regulators that may put intense pressure on the management of the UK-based bank.

According to the report filed by the New York state department of financial services (NYSDFS), when warned by a US colleague about dealings with Iran, a Standard Chartered executive caustically replied: “You f—ing Americans. Who are you to tell us, the rest of the world, that we’re not going to deal with Iranians.”

Who, indeed?

The families of the 241 Marines killed by Hizballah in the 1983 Beirut bombing, that’s who.

NEW YORK — Families of victims of a deadly 1983 bombing of U.S. Marines in Lebanon filed a lawsuit on Wednesday seeking to hold Standard Chartered Bank and its New York branch accountable.

They claim in the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan that the bank conspired with Iran and its agents to hide Iran’s assets from them. They’re seeking to trace assets as they try to enforce a $2.6 billion judgment against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

A federal court in Washington, D.C., issued the award in 2007 after Iran failed to contest claims it was involved in the bombing, which killed 241 servicemen at a Marines facility in Beirut.

The lawsuit said the bank’s “success in building a massive business clearing U.S. dollar transactions on behalf of Iranian financial institutions was a result of concerted efforts to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran.” It said the bank’s executives “continued year-after-year to process the illicit Iranian transactions in order to pad” the bank’s profits.

Those lawsuits sprang up last week. In a separate but related action this week, the US seized about $150 million in funds Hizballah was trying to launder through American banks.

NEW YORK: US authorities on Monday announced the seizure of $150 million allegedly linked to a scheme by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah to launder proceeds from drug trafficking and other crimes.

The money came from an American bank account used by the Beirut-based Lebanese Canadian Bank (LCB) to conduct US currency transactions, US Attorney Preet Bharara and Drug Enforcement Administration chief Michele Leonhart said.

Over the past several years, Hizballah has increased its role in the international drug trade in order to generate cash flow to fund its terrorist army. Its drug trade and cartel-like operations stretch from Pakistan/Afghanistan across the Middle East and Africa, through South America (where Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez is believed to be a local ally) right to the US border with Mexico. The question is, does that activity ever cross the border? Financially speaking, yes, they do.

US prosecutors then alleged that the LCB, the Hassan Ayash Exchange Company and the Ellissa Holding Company wired funds from Lebanon to the United States to buy used cars, which were then sent 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,” the US Attorney’s office said at the time.

Hezbollah refuted the charges, saying they were “another attempt to tarnish the image of the resistance in Lebanon,” but US prosecutors said there was no doubt about the institutions’ ties to the militant outfit.

“Our relentless pursuit of global criminal networks showed that the US banking system was exploited to launder drug trafficking funds through West Africa and into Lebanon,” Leonhart said Monday.

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