Treasury Targets Alleged Key Panama-based Money Laundering Operation Linked to Mexican and Colombian Drug Cartels

January 3, 2012

VAdvert.co.uk on December 31, 2011 released the following:

“Sophia Jenson

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today designated Lebanese-Colombian nationals Jorge Fadlallah Cheaitelly (“Cheaitelly”) and Mohamad Zouheir El Khansa (“El Khansa”) as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers (SDNTs) due to their significant role in international money laundering activities involving drug trafficking proceeds. OFAC also designated nine other individuals and 28 entities in Colombia, Panama, Lebanon, and Hong Kong with ties to Cheaitelly and El Khansa. Today’s action, taken pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act), prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with these entities and individuals and freezes any assets the designees may have under U.S. jurisdiction.

“Jorge Fadlallah Cheaitelly runs an extensive money laundering network based in Panama and Colombia with ties to Mexico, Lebanon, and Hong Kong,” said OFAC Director Adam J. Szubin. “By designating these individuals and companies we are exposing a significant international money laundering network, forcing them out of the international financial system, and undermining their ability to launder drug money through a global support network for the Mexican and Colombian drug cartels.”

Treasury took today’s actions in close coordination with investigations by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the New York City Police Department.

“These criminals and their entities operate in the shadows, using sophisticated means and various business fronts to launder drug trafficking proceeds worldwide,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “These traffickers and businesses fuel drug trafficking, violence, and corruption. The United States Government will use all available law enforcement tools to attack and defeat these global criminal networks and their facilitators.”

Jorge Fadlallah Cheaitelly leads a Panama-based drug trafficking and money laundering organization that stretches across the globe, spanning the Americas, the Middle East, and Hong Kong. Today’s action targets key Colombian members of the Cheaitelly/El Khansa criminal organization, including Cali-based money launderer Jaime Edery Crivosei, Barranquilla-based drug trafficker Benny Issa Fawaz and Maicao-based money launderer Ali Mohamad Saleh. Cheaitelly’s key financial associates are also targeted, including his siblings, Jaime Fadlallah Cheaytelli, Guiseppe Ali Cheaitelli Saheli, and Fatima Fadlallath Cheaitilly, and two Lebanon-based associates, Fawaz Mohamad Rahall and Ahmed El Khansa.

Today’s action also targets 28 companies controlled by Jorge Cheaitelly and Mohamad El Khansa and their associates in Panama, Colombia and Hong Kong. Among today’s designations are several money exchange businesses in Panama — Eurocambio, S.A., Euro Exchange Y Financial Commerce, Inc. (a.k.a. Eurex) and General Commerce Overseas, Inc. ­– as well as Junior International S.A., Global Technology Import & Export, S.A. (GTI), and Fedco Import & Export, S.A., import/export businesses located in Panama’s Colon Free Zone that are part of the Cheaitelly/El Khansa financial network. Junior International S.A. is affiliated with the significant Lebanese drug trafficker and money launderer, Ayman Joumaa, who was designated under the Kingpin Act in January 2011. Cheaitelly replaced Ayman Joumaa as director of Junior International S.A. and continues to operate the company with Joumaa’s brothers who are also designated as narcotics traffickers.

Several front companies located in Maicao, Colombia were also designated, including electronics stores Bodega Electro Giorgio and Almacen Electro Sony Star, general merchandise businesses Family Fedco and Comercial Globanty, and luggage stores Almacen Batul and Comercial Estilo y Moda. Two businesses controlled by Cali-based money launderer Jaime Edery Crivosei, Agropecuaria La Perla Ltda and KPD S.A., were also designated. OFAC also designated Polyton (Asia) Limited, a company located in Hong Kong, for acting for or on behalf of Guiseppe Ali Cheaitelly Saheli.

Today’s action is part of the Treasury Department’s ongoing efforts pursuant to the Kingpin Act to target the financial networks of significant foreign narcotics traffickers and their organizations worldwide. The Treasury Department has designated more than 1,000 individuals and entities linked to drug kingpins since June 2000. Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1.075 million per violation to more severe criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Other individuals face up to 10 years in prison and fines pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code for criminal violations of the Kingpin Act.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
OFAC SDN Removal Videos:

OFAC Litigation – SDN List Removal

OFAC SDN List Removal

OFAC SDN Removal Attorneys

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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Enforcing existing sanctions on Iran

November 6, 2011

The Washington Times on November 4, 2011 released the following:

By Avi Jorisch -The Washington Times

“U.S. empowered to crack down on business with regime’s central bank

In recent years, the United States has imposed a punishing sanctions regime on Iran’s banking sector. To further increase Tehran’s level of financial pain, a great number of congressional and advocacy groups have repeatedly called on the White House to blacklist the Central Bank of Iran (CBI). Doing so, the thinking goes, would seriously hamper the Islamic republic’s ability to abuse international markets in its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Yet unbeknownst to most lawmakers and Washington policymakers, the U.S. Treasury actually hasblacklisted the CBI, and not once, but twice in recent years. The real question is why the U.S. government has not enforced its own sanctions regime.

The CBI has been accused of helping fund Iran’s nuclear weapons program, facilitate money transfers to terrorist organizations and proliferate weapons of mass destruction. The Treasury Department has publicly declared that between 2001 and 2006, the CBI facilitated a $50 million payment for Hezbollah. Treasury also has disclosed that the bank engaged in “deceptive practices,” including helping Iran’s Sepah and Melli banks, two financial institutions blacklisted by the United Nations, the European Union and United States for their role in facilitating illicit international transactions.

The United States maintains a number of “blacklists” sponsored by different agencies, including but not limited to the Departments of State, Treasury and Commerce. The Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list is a broad compilation of persons and entities – a “list of lists” – administered by Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Those on the SDN list include not only persons and entities involved in terrorism, but also weapons proliferators, drug traffickers and those designated under country-specific sanctions programs.

Today, the SDN list has more than 6,000 entries, includingthe Central Bank of Iran. Unless specifically exempted, all U.S. persons and entities must block any property in which an SDN has an interest and report the action to OFAC. Blocked property may not be “transferred, withdrawn, exported, paid, or otherwise dealt in” without prior authorization from OFAC. If OFAC thinks a person or institution has violated the law, it has several options at its disposal, including cease-and-desist orders, civil penalties, suspension or revocation of licenses, and criminal charges.

The Treasury Department’s Web page clearly shows that the Central Bank of Iran appears on the SDN list of June 16, 2010, under the Iran country sanctions program. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network also took action against the CBI; in March 2008, it issued a banking advisory that fingered the bank for the “money laundering threat involving illicit Iranian activity.”

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner recently wrote to Congressthat “all options to increase the financial pressure on Iran are on the table, including the possibility of imposing additional sanctions against the CBI.” But the United States does not need new sanctions; it just needs to implement the existing regime, which could be a very potent tool for pursuing Iranian financial activity around the globe.

At this point, concerned parties should advocate a number of measures. The United States should ask banks that provide services of any kind to the Central Bank of Iran to cease doing so immediately. If they refuse to comply, the U.S. government should take immediate legal action in accordance with the PATRIOT Act and the U.S. Code, Title 18, Section 981, freezing any U.S.-based assets they hold and blocking their access to American markets.

Moving against the Central Bank would necessitate indirect action because the bank does not appear to possess assets in America. However, the U.S. government does have the power to freeze the funds deposited in a foreign bank on behalf of the Central Bank if the foreign bank maintains an account (known as an “interbank” or “correspondent account”) at a U.S. financial institution or has actual operations or property in the United States.

Washington should begin implementing the SDN as soon as possible. At a minimum, Treasury should designate one or a number of the biggest offenders among those engaging in business transactions with Iran’s Central Bank. This would likely cause many, if not most, of the companies and banks currently doing business with, or on behalf of, the Central Bank to cut their ties.

Policymakers in Washington are now keenly interested in imposing greater financial costs on the Iranian regime in an effort to derail its nuclear program. To do so, the need to target Iran’s Central Bank should be readily apparent. So, too, should the fact that levying real pressure on Iran’s most important economic construct is simply a matter of enacting already-existing restrictions and penalties. The Obama administration should do so without delay.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
OFAC SDN Removal Videos:

OFAC Litigation – SDN List Removal

OFAC SDN List Removal

OFAC SDN Removal Attorneys

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Obama Nominates New Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence

February 10, 2011

President Obama’s point person on cracking down on financial and economic sanctions has recently resigned.

The departure of Stuart Levey from his role as the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence comes as the United States and its allies appear likely to make a push for stiffer sanctions on Iran.

Obama nominated Levey’s deputy, David Cohen, to replace him. Cohen will need to be confirmed by the Senate.

Within the Treasury Department, The Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence develops and implements U.S. government strategies to combat terrorist financing domestically and internationally, develops and implements the National Money Laundering Strategy as well as other policies and programs to fight financial crimes.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) operates within the Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Office. The new undersecretary, whether the Senate confirms Cohen or another individual, will be responsible for the oversight of OFAC operations and enforcement.

Levey was known for his influence on foreign banks and companies to comply with U.S. sanctions, raising the threat that they could jeopardize their ability to do business in the United States if they violated them. Many banks have cut all ties to Iran as a result.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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