(New York, N.Y.) – Last week, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned two former Lebanese cabinet members—Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil and Transport Minister Yusuf Finyanus—for providing material support to Hezbollah and engaging in corruption. The designations follow intensified warnings from U.S. officials that a new wave of sanctions will target political allies of the terror group and other corrupt actors in Lebanon who “enable Hezbollah.”
According to the U.S. Treasury Department, Ali Hassan Khalil exploited his position in the Lebanese government from 2014 to 2020 by providing funding and resources to Hezbollah-owned companies. In return, Khalil allegedly reached an agreement with Hezbollah shortly before the Lebanese parliamentary elections in May 2018 to receive support for his political success. Khalil supposedly redirected money in a way that would allow Hezbollah-associated institutions to evade U.S. sanctions enforcement from government ministries. Khalil is currently a member of the Lebanese Parliament.
Yusuf Finyanus began working with Hezbollah in 2015, when the terrorist group provided Finyanus hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for political favors. During that time, Finyanus also regularly met with Wafiq Safa, a U.S.-designated leader in Hezbollah’s security apparatus who had alleged control over borders and ports. Additionally, it was reported that Finyanus siphoned and redirected funds from government budgets towards Hezbollah-owned companies to win bids for Lebanese government contracts worth millions of dollars.
The Treasury Department did not accuse Khalil or Finyanus of being directly responsible for the Beirut port explosion on August 4, 2020, which killed 191 people and injured around 5,000 others, but cited the incident as cause for action. Following the blast, mass protests erupted against government negligence and corruption, leading to the resignation of Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s entire cabinet—including Finyanus and Khalil—on August 10, 2020.
The sanctions mark a continuation of penalties that have been imposed against Hezbollah and its operatives in recent years by governments around the world. In April, Germany joined the United Kingdom and the Netherlands in designating Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist group. Over the past two years in Latin America, Argentina, Paraguay, Guatemala, Honduras, and Colombia have all designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
To read CEP’s Hezbollah resource, please click here.
To read CEP’s Hezbollah’s Influence In Lebanon resource, please click here.
To read CEP’s Ali Hassan Khalil resource, please click here.
To read CEP’s Yusuf Finyanus resource, please click here.