Lebanese businessman appears in US court in sanctions case

March 24, 2017 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Lebanese businessman who the United States says has provided millions of dollars to the Hezbollah militant group has pleaded not guilty to federal criminal charges that he violated sanctions.

Kassim Tajideen, who was arrested in Morocco earlier this month, made his first court appearance in Washington on Friday and was ordered detained after Justice Department prosecutors called him a flight risk.

An 11-count indictment unsealed Friday accuses Tajideen, 62, of violating sanctions that barred him from doing business with U.S. people and companies because of his support for Hezbollah.

“Those sanctions are designed to protect our national security and public safety by limiting terrorists’ access to resources, and this extradition sends a clear message that we are resolved to find and hold accountable those who violate these laws,” Mary McCord, the acting assistant general in charge of the Justice Department’s national security division, said in a statement.


A lawyer for Tajideen, Matt Jones, declined to comment after the court appearance.

The U.S. Treasury Department in 2009 imposed sanctions on Tajideen that prohibited U.S. companies from doing business with him or with any companies that are operated for his benefit. But the Justice Department indictment said Tajideen restructured his business operations to evade sanctions and continue doing business with U.S. companies.

Hezbollah, which has members in Lebanon’s parliament and Cabinet, is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.