Three U.S. Sanctioned Companies Linked to Hizballah Operating In Liberia

Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah

Washington DC and Monrovia – April 23, 2019: Liberia continues to play host nation to three questionable local businesses which have been identified by the U.S. Government as having links to the Iranian supported and Lebanese based terrorist group Hizballah.

Under its Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), the Department of Treasury Specially Designated Nationals And Blocked Persons List (SDN) lists the business operating in Liberia as Sky Trade Company in Logan Town, opposite the Rice Store, Golden Fish Liberia Limited at Second Street Sinkor and Logan Town in Monrovia and Dolphin Trading Company Limited on Bob Taylor Road in Paynesville.

The three businesses are linked to one Ali Muhammad Quansu, an individual citizen from Lebanon who is subject to secondary sanctions by the U.S. Government pursuant to the Hizballah Financial Sanctions Regulations.

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, “Ali Muhammad Qansu (Ali Qansu) was designated for acting for or on behalf of Adham Tabaja.

Ali Qansu has a longstanding and established business relationship with Adham Tabaja, including maintaining millions of dollars in bonds for him. Ali Qansu also maintains relationships with Hizballah members and affiliates, including OFAC-designated Muhammad Al-Mukhtar Kallas.

Blue Lagoon Group LTD., Kanso Fishing Agency Limited, Star Trade Ghana Limited, Golden FishS.A.L. Offshore, Golden Fish Liberia LTD., Dolphin Trading Company Limited (DTC), and Sky Trade Company.

All seven entities are designated for being owned or controlled by Ali Qansu.

Ali Qansu wholly owns Blue Lagoon Group LTD and Kanso Fishing Agency Limited, both of which are based in Sierra Leone. He is the managing director of Ghana-based Star Trade Ghana Limited.  In this capacity, he has managed bank accounts for Star Trade Ghana, and transacted with a Ghanaian-based bank on behalf of the company.  Additionally, he coordinated over a million dollars in fish sales with Sierra Leone- and Ghana-based fishing companies, including sales of Star Trade Ghana.

Ali Qansu is the chief executive officer and authorized representative of Dolphin Trading Company Limited (DTC) and Liberia-based Sky Trade Company. He is also the general director of Dolphin Trading Company Limited (DTC) and a member of its board of directors

Ali Qansu is also the majority owner of Lebanon-based Golden Fish S.A.L. Offshore and Liberia-based Golden Fish Liberia LTD, which is engaged in various fishing activities, poultry and pig farming, food processing, car rental and sales, hotel-related activities, import and export of various goods, and multiple other business activities.

In February, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced that it was targeting the business operations of Hizballah and six individuals and businesses who are alleged to provide support to terrorists and acts of terrorism. Ali Mihammad Quansu and his businesses in Liberia are included.

On Monday, Nathan A. Sales, an Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for U.S. Counterterrorism told a press briefing, “We know that Iran backed terrorist groups are active in Africa.” Making particular mention of Liberia, the U.S. official said, “I believe the Treasury Department issued a number of designations some months ago focusing on Hizballah activity in Africa, and one of the front companies that stood out to me was a pig farm, I think in Liberia. Yeah, the Hizballah pig farm in Liberia. So we know that these malign actions are very active on the continent, and we look forward to partnering with governments there to cut off the flow of money to Hizballah”, Ambassador Sales emphasized.

Using its Rewards for Justice Program, the U.S. State Department is offering up to $10 million dollars for information leading to disruption of financial operations of Hizballah.

African Star can report that, based on its investigation, the businesses sanction had been operating in Liberia even under the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Administration until now. It is not known if the Liberian Government is aware of these sanctions on the businesses operating in the country or just have chosen to ignore them.

Normally, Liberia’s Ministry of Commerce would be the lead Government entity with oversight of businesses operating in the country.

According to the Ministry of Commerce’s website, it says, “As a strong partner, we strive to create sound policies promptly for commerce and trade that facilitate private sector growth and innovations, while setting standards that will empower all of our consumers to make informed decisions improving the quality of life for all. In particular, we will facilitate private sector growth, and set good policies and standards to achieve this.  Among our many partners, we will be particularly focused on existing and new business, consumers, and helping move the informal into the formal sector. We will do this with respect for all partners, with accountability for efficient and effective performance and with professional standards at a high level of integrity.”

Recently, several shipping companies and their marine vessels registered under the Liberian flag and involved with transporting crude oil of the Venezuelan Government were added to the sanctions list by the U.S. Another six international shipping companies that are registered in Liberia and doing some business with Iran remain sanctioned by the U.S. Government.

African Star has reached out to Liberia’s Ministry of Commerce for detailed comment on the business status of the named sanctioned entities. A security source says weak money laundering laws and enforcement are hampering the Liberian Government’s efforts in combatting financial support flowing from its territory to terrorist groups and individuals around the globe.

Source: African Star Economic and Security Correspondents in Monrovia and Washington DC

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