Mohammed Ibrahim Bazzi

Mohammed Ibrahim Bazzi is a Hezbollah financier who has fundraised millions of dollars for Hezbollah through his business activities in Belgium, Lebanon, Iraq, and West Africa.“Treasury Targets Key Hizballah Financing Network and Iranian Conduit,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, May 17, 2018, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm0388. He was designated a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the U.S. Department of the Treasury on May 17, 2018. Five companies owned or controlled by Bazzi were also designated by the U.S. Treasury on the same date.“Treasury Targets Key Hizballah Financing Network and Iranian Conduit,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, May 17, 2018, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm0388. The United States has offered a reward of up to $10 million for information on Bazzi.“Lebanese Hezbollah’s Financial Network,” Rewards for Justice, accessed May 19, 2021, https://rewardsforjustice.net/english/lebanese_hizballah_financial_network.html.

From 2009 to 2010, Bazzi worked with Abdallah Safi-Al-Din, Hezbollah’s representative to Iran, and the Central Bank of Iran to increase banking access between Iran and Lebanon. In 2011, Bazzi and Safi-Al-Din worked to resolve a dispute and reestablish relations between Iran and The Gambia.“Treasury Targets Key Hizballah Financing Network and Iranian Conduit,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, May 17, 2018, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm0388. According to the U.S. Treasury, Bazzi is a “close associate” of Yahya Jammeh, the former president of The Gambia who was sanctioned by the United States in December 2017 for his record of human rights abuses and money laundering.“Treasury Targets Key Hizballah Financing Network and Iranian Conduit,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, May 17, 2018, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm0388; “United States Sanctions Human Rights Abusers and Corrupt Actors Across the Globe,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, December 21, 2017, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm0243.

Bazzi maintains ties to other U.S.-designated individuals, including Hezbollah financiers Adham Tabaja and Ali Youssef Charara.“Treasury Targets Key Hizballah Financing Network and Iranian Conduit,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, May 17, 2018, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm0388. He also has links to drug dealers and the U.S.-designated Ayman Joumaa Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering Organization, a Lebanese drug trafficking network.“Treasury Targets Key Hizballah Financing Network and Iranian Conduit,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, May 17, 2018, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm0388; “Treasury Targets Major Lebanese-Based Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering Network,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, January 26, 2011, https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg1035.aspx.

Five of Bazzi’s companies were also designated by the U.S. Treasury on May 17, 2018.“Treasury Targets Key Hizballah Financing Network and Iranian Conduit,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, May 17, 2018, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm0388. They included the Belgian energy services conglomerate Global Trading Group NV, the Gambian petroleum company Euro African Group LTD, as well as three Lebanon-based companies: Africa Middle East Investment Holding SAL, Premier Investment Group SAL Offshore, and Car Escort Services S.A.L. Off Shore.“Treasury Targets Key Hizballah Financing Network and Iranian Conduit,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, May 17, 2018, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm0388. On April 24, 2019, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Bazzi’s son, Wael Bazzi, for acting on behalf of his father.“U.S. Targets Two Men, Three Firms for Helping Hezbollah Avoid Sanctions,” Reuters, April 24, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-hezbollah-sanctions/u-s-targets-two-men-three-firms-for-helping-hezbollah-avoid-sanctions-idUSKCN1S02CY.

In September 2019, The Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission found that Bazzi was involved in extensive business dealings with former President Yahya Jammeh and his government. Bazzi reportedly had an interest in at least 15 companies that had business dealings with Jammeh’s government. In some cases, his companies were awarded exclusive contracts with the government that were paid for with funds that Jammeh illegally withdrew from the Central Bank of The Gambia. Because of his history of corrupt behavior with the Jammeh administration, the Gambian government declared Bazzi persona non grata, permanently forbidding him from entering the country. The Gambian government also permanently banned 20 companies associated with Bazzi.“Mohamed Bazzi Banned from entering The Gambia,” Foroyaa, September 24, 2019, https://foroyaa.net/mohamed-bazzi-banned-from-entering-the-gambia/.

On July 9, 2020, the Gambian Court of Appeal dismissed Bazzi’s appeal of the Commission’s ruling. The Court ruled that, because the Commission is not a judicial body but is an advisory part of the Gambian executive branch, the Court of Appeal has no authority to overturn the Commission’s ruling.Yankuba Jallow, “Court of Appeal Dismisses Case of Mohamed Bazzi,” Foroyaa, July 9, 2020, https://foroyaa.net/court-of-appeal-dismisses-case-of-mohamed-bazzi/.

United States

The U.S. Department of the Treasury designated “Mohammed Ibrahim Bazzi” as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 on May 17, 2018.“Treasury Targets Key Hizballah Financing Network and Iranian Conduit,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, May 17, 2018, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm0388.

The Gambia

The Government of The Gambia declared “Mr. Mohamed Bazzi” persona non grata and banned him from entering Gambian territorial jurisdiction in September 2019.“Mohamed Bazzi Banned from entering The Gambia,” Foroyaa, September 24, 2019, https://foroyaa.net/mohamed-bazzi-banned-from-entering-the-gambia/.

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