US House votes to punish banks that fund Hezbollah
- Published on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 20:34
US lawmakers have voted to punish banks that help funnel money to Lebanese Hezbollah formed by the Iranian regime's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) in 1982.
The House of Representatives voted unanimously to broaden sanctions on the terrorist organization and 'relentlessly pursue' domestic and foreign banks that do business with Hezbollah.
The bill also calls on President Barack Obama to label the group a transnational criminal organization, compelling the administration to take action to counter the group's engagement in money laundering and trafficking in drugs and counterfeit goods.
The Senate now needs to pass the legislation before President Obama signs it into law.
House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce said: "This bill builds on the existing sanctions regime by placing Hezbollah's sources of financing under additional scrutiny, particularly those resources outside of Lebanon."
The US sanctions would help reduce Hezbollah’s global reach, he said.
Mr Royce added: "We must be focused on some 5,000 Hezbollah fighters in Syria, massive international drug and money laundering operations, and the terrorist organization’s acquisition of advanced missile systems."
On July 10, the US Treasury blacklisted the Stars Group Holding, a Beirut-based network of companies accused of helping Hezbollah procure military equipment.
In 2011, the Treasury sanctioned the Lebanese Canadian Bank, accusing it of laundering hundreds of millions of dollars from a narcotics network. The bank, which has since been dissolved, paid a fine of $102 million to US authorities in 2013 to avoid prosecution.
Hezbollah has suffered heavy losses in fighting for the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and killing the Syrian people.