For immediate release | Friday, May 1, 2015

CEP Applauds Western Union for Closing Operation at Hizbollah-linked Commercial Center in Gambia

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Media at CEP

In SEC Disclosure, Company Describes Action Taken in Response to CEP 

(New York, NY) – The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) today applauded Western Union for swiftly ceasing operations at the Hizbollah-linked Kairaba Shopping Center in Gambia following an inquiry from CEP. The Kairaba Center was sanctioned by the U.S. in 2010 for its role in a Hizballah funding network.   

“Western Union took swift and decisive action when informed by CEP of the presence of a branch office in a shopping center owned by three Lebanese brothers accused of raising  large amounts of money for Hizballah,” said CEP CEO Ambassador Mark D. Wallace. “Following our letter, Western Union terminated its contract with the operator of the store in Gambia and hired an outside law firm to conduct a comprehensive review to determine how, in contravention of established company policy, this connection to a Hezbollah front entity could have taken place. As described in its 10-Q disclosure forms released April 30, 2015, Western Union took the kind of immediate and responsible action that other entities and businesses should emulate."

In a March 4, 2015 letter to Western Union officials, Wallace expressed CEP’s concerns about the company’s “apparent presence at the Kairaba Shopping Center, a Gambian-based entity sanctioned by the United States.” 

The letter highlighted the fact that the shopping center is at the center of a number of enterprises run by Ali Tajideen, Husayn Tajideen and Kassim Tajideen, three brothers who are known and sanctioned supporters of the Lebanon-based terrorist group. In December 2010, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated the Kairaba Shopping Center, a subsidiary of a front company, Tajco Ltd., owned by the Tajideen brothers, saying that the supermarket provided “a lucrative and cash-rich business,” to funnel money to Hizballah.

In its quarterly (10-Q) report filed April 30, Western Union disclosed the actions it took following receipt of CEP’s letter dated March 4:

...In late March 2015, the Company preliminarily determined that Kairaba Shopping Centre appeared to be a match to an entity that was added to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (“SDN List”) of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”)....On March 25, 2015, the Company took action to prevent the Kairaba Shopping Centre from receiving or initiating money transfer transactions through the Western Union network, has permanently suspended all activity by the Kairaba Shopping Centre, and is investigating whether additional steps with respect to operations relating to Trust Bank Ltd. are appropriate....the Company has disclosed this matter to OFAC and intends to cooperate with regulatory inquiries, if any.”

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