U.S. Attorney files complaint against Lebanese Canadian Bank in trade-based money laundering case

By Christine Duhaime | December 22nd, 2011

The U.S. Attorney has filed a money laundering complaint commencing an in rem forfeiture action against the Lebanese Canadian Bank and others, seeking penalties of US$446 million in connection with what it says was a money laundering scheme operated by the Bank. The action is one of the first trade-based money laundering cases.

As part of the alleged scheme, funds were transferred from Lebanon to the U.S. to buy used cars which were shipped to West Africa and sold for cash. The cash was then bulk smuggled to Lebanon. The complaint also alleged that members of Hizballah participated in the scheme. Hizballah is a listed terrorist entity in Canada and the U.S.

According to the complaint, approximately US$329 million was transferred by wire from accounts at the Lebanese Canadian Bank to U.S. institutions.

On February 10, 2011, the Lebanese Canadian Bank was listed by FinCEN as an entity of primary money laundering concern, the result of which meant that the Bank was unable to operate in the U.S. At that time, it had an office in Montréal.

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