Saturday , September 22 2018

Two companies in ‘trouble’ over financial dealings with Hezbollah

Aerial view of Jibla downtown Kuwait City. — Musaed Alghuraibah — KUNA

KUWAIT CITY, April 23: The security authorities have requested from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry details about two companies, whose identities have not been disclosed, but are reportedly involved in illegal financial transactions in favor of the Lebanese Hezbollah, reports Al-Rai daily quoting reliable sources.

The same sources said these two companies are already on the list of the United States and Gulf states as ‘terrorism financing’. While the sources refused to disclose the names of the two companies, one of them allegedly is a financial ‘intermediary’ and the second is involved in funds transfers.

The sources noted the queries from the ministry include details about the founders of these two companies, the number and names of current shareholders, size of the capitals and if they are operating legally.

According to the sources, the ministry has been requested to check the documents of the two companies, particularly their budgets, minutes of meetings of the general assemblies, and other documents to help the authorities get a clear picture of the financial standing and the nature of the activities of these two companies.

The sources pointed out, the security authorities did not explain to the ministry to what extent the two companies are involved in activities with Hezbollah. The request comes in the context of extensive investigations about the activities of various companies.

The daily also said it is still too early to issue a verdict on the two companies. If it is established that the two companies are involved in illegal financial activities in favor of Hezbollah, they will be blacklisted under the Anti-Terrorism and Financing Act, and this will include its supporters and those working with them or on their behalf. This will be followed by the imposition of sanctions and freezing of their assets.

Meanwhile, responsible sources said the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism Department has requested the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to stop the activities of the companies and institutions, if one or more founders or officials make the list of persons involved in financing terrorism and money laundering. The names of these persons must be sent to the department together with their contributions and their relationship with the company in question and other investments.

During a recent meeting with officials of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the department stressed on the need to activate the circular which was issued in 2016, which bars the renewal of license of any company if the name of the owner or any official appears on the blacklists.

The law also forbids the modification of the main licence activity and bans the entry and exit of new partners. The sources pointed out the main challenge which undermines the efforts of the Ministry of Commerce in this regard, is the lack of periodic national lists that classify blacklisted persons other than global lists, noting that the procedure of ministries depend on the United Nations lists, which are sent by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait and circulated among ministries and government institutions to do the needful.

The sources indicated it was agreed that the department prepare a local list of classified persons, update it periodically and send it to the concerned parties and, therefore the ministry is obliged to suspend all activities of the companies related to the classified person or entity. The source added the department will be linked with the relevant authorities to take action, if necessary, in a timely manner.

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