April 19, 2023 | Flash Brief

Justice Department Indicts Sanctioned Hezbollah Financier

April 19, 2023 | Flash Brief

Justice Department Indicts Sanctioned Hezbollah Financier

Latest Developments

The Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted Hezbollah financier Nazem Said Ahmad and eight associates on April 18 for their alleged role in fraudulent transactions — many in the United States — involving artwork, luxury goods, and precious stones. The indictment came the same day the Treasury Department sanctioned Ahmad’s international network of associates and companies, adding to the department’s 2019 sanctions designation against Ahmad, which identified him as a Hezbollah financier with connections to another designated financier, Mohammad Bazzi.

Expert Analysis

“Belatedly building on Ahmad’s 2019 designation, the targeting of this network should expand to include other conflict diamond and money laundering associates as well as Hezbollah financiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, some of whom are major depositors in the group’s al-Qard al-Hassan Association. However, this latest designation is ultimately blunted by two years’ worth of sanctions relief to Iran, with more on the horizon, and by the administration’s pouring of hundreds of millions of dollars into Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon.” — Tony Badran, FDD Research Fellow

“Hezbollah’s illicit finance streams regularly go through the U.S. banking system, threatening its financial integrity. The revenue they raise funds the systematic destabilization of Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, where Hezbollah has deployed in support of its patron’s imperial ambitions. The same networks employed by Hezbollah to fundraise can support terror plots and foment corruption. Confronting Hezbollah’s criminal syndicate is not simply part of the unending struggle against organized crime but rather a national security imperative.” Emanuele Ottolenghi, FDD Senior Fellow

Hezbollah’s Illicit Funding

Crime is a core component of Hezbollah’s fundraising. The latest indictment provides additional evidence that revenue generated from illicit activities may far exceed the estimated $300 million — or 30 percent of Hezbollah’s $1 billion annual operating budget — suggested by open-source studies. Iran provides the remainder of Hezbollah’s operating budget.

DOJ and Treasury investigations over the past two decades have documented Hezbollah’s global network of contacts in organized crime and illicit networks run by business associates across the Lebanese Shiite diaspora.

Helping Others Evade Sanctions

Thanks to its global footprint, Hezbollah offers organized crime worldwide intermediary services such as logistics, distribution, and repatriation of funds through trade-based money laundering schemes. In Latin America, Hezbollah plays a large part in the illicit economy of the Tri-Border Area (TBA) of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, which generates at least $5 billion annually in illicit transactions. Hezbollah also helps Venezuela’s regime launder money through multiple waypoints in Venezuela and Central America. And it has for years run extensive money laundering and drug trafficking networks from Colombia.

Related Analysis

A Match Made in Heaven: The Hezbollah-Amal Nexus,” by Emanuele Ottolenghi

Treasury Targets Hezbollah’s West African Finance Network,” by Emanuele Ottolenghi

U.S. Treasury Designates Additional Targets in Hezbollah Financial Network,” by Tony Badran

Hezbollah’s al-Qard al-Hasan and Lebanon’s Banking Sector,” by Tony Badran and Emanuele Ottolenghi


Hezbollah Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Sanctions and Illicit Finance