Home Arts Art and diamond dealer accused of funding Hezbollah is accused of evading US sanctions

Art and diamond dealer accused of funding Hezbollah is accused of evading US sanctions

by godlove4241
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Nazem Ahmad, a Lebanese collector and dealer who deals in art and diamonds, was indicted yesterday (April 18) in New York along with eight co-conspirators in what the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) considers a vast international endeavor to evade sanctions and channel financial support to the militant group Hezbollah.

Ahmad’s accountant in Britain, Sundar Nagarajan, has been arrested, but the other eight defendants remain at large and are believed to be outside the United States, authorities said. Ahmad, a Belgian-Lebanese dual citizen, is said to be a resident of Lebanon. Its assets in Britain were frozen Tuesday.

“Funding foreign terrorist organizations like Hezbollah is illegal, whether that funding is in the form of cash or the export of high-priced diamonds and art,” said Matthew S. Axelrod, assistant secretary of commerce for export application. in a statement.

The investigation that led to Tuesday’s indictments – involving DHS as well as the US Departments of Commerce, Justice, State and Treasury – found that after sanctions were imposed on Ahmad in December 2019, entities under his control or acting on his behalf are said to have continued to transact in the United States, import assets worth more than $207 million, and explore assets worth more than $234 million , mostly art and diamonds.

“The investigation demonstrates the unwavering commitment of the US and UK governments to preventing the art and diamond markets from becoming a haven for illicit financial activity,” said Tae D. Johnson, Deputy Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the United States, in a press release. “We will use all the tools at our disposal to dismantle these illicit networks.”

In addition to the indictments against Ahmad and his eight alleged accomplices, the Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on 52 entities and individuals in nine countries that have ties to Ahmad. One such person is his daughter Hind Ahmad, who runs Beirut-based Artual Gallery and DIDA Gallery in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. According to a Treasury Department announcement, she helped her father evade sanctions by arranging deals on his behalf and helping him create a pseudonym under which he could continue to transact in the United States.

“I never imagined this would be possible,” Hind said The New York Times. She rejected allegations that her father was helping fund Hezbollah and said the charges against him were the result of lies told by his enemies in Lebanon.

On several occasions, Ahmad has owned works by Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso, among others. Her Instagram account features photos of works by many top and emerging artists, from canvases by emerging painters Lucy Bull and Flora Yukhnovich to works by canonical modern and contemporary figures like Mark Rothko and Jean-Michel Basquiat. According to justice departmentAhmad obtained works of art worth more than $450,000 in the United States and works worth $780,000 from American individuals outside the United States after sanctions were imposed on him imposed in December 2019.

US authorities announced the new charges and sanctions against Ahmad and his associates on the 40th anniversary of the April 18, 1983 bombing of the US embassy in Beirut, which killed 63 people, including 32 citizens. Lebanese and 17 Americans. US authorities attributed the attack to Hezbollah. At the time, it was the deadliest attack on a US diplomatic facility.

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