Paraguayan authorities handed over their citizen of Lebanese origin, Nader Mohammed Farhat, to the US security authorities in Miami, Florida, where he faces criminal charges of money laundering.
His case is expected to reveal a lot of information about money laundering and the complexities of trade on the border triangle between Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil, including the involvement of the Lebanese Hezbollah party.
A federal court in Miami will decide whether Farhat’s trial will take place there or in New York, where he faces similar charges.
Farhat is an alleged co-conspirator in a case involving another Paraguayan national of Lebanese origin, Mahmoud Ali Barakat, and three other defendants who are accused of assisting in the laundering of drug monies from inside the US.
According to Court documents, Farhat is a “known money launderer for narcotics organizations and other illicit organizations,” while media reports allege a possible connection to Hezbollah.
According to a Department of Justice press release announcing the indictment of his co-conspirators, Farhat participated in “an international money laundering scheme relying on the complexities of global trade, and the use of businesses here in New York and in Florida, to launder millions of dollars for transnational drug traffickers and other bad actors.”
The case revealed how drug gangs in Latin America and other organized crime groups continued to exploit complex trade-based schemes to launder their illicit gains.
Moreover, many of the companies involved are in the United States, exposing the US financial system to considerable reputational risk.
The case also highlighted the important role played by the three Latin American countries in this type of financial crime.
ASHARQ AL AWSAT