Hezbollah Financiers – Hejeij clan
Kassem Hejeij is a prominent member of Hezbollah’s economic arm who was designated by the US treasury in 2015. Hejeij, is one of its prominent members, using his vast business connections in Africa and the Middle East to funnel funds to Hezbollah from his banking, tourism and construction empire. In the early 90s, he became the majority shareholder and chairman of MEAB (Middle East and Africa Bank) in Lebanon.
Hejeij made his fortune a few decades ago through his construction companies in West Africa. To this day, he remains an extremely popular figure there and has ties to the ruling elite including former presidents, prominent politicians and Army Generals. This access to the highest echelons in the country allows him to facilitate arms deals for Hezbollah and buy silence that allows Hezbollah to West Africa to carry out its illicit activities such as drug trafficking and smuggling.
Up until his designation by the US treasury, Hejeij personally provided Hezbollah with banking services. Using his bank, MEAB, Hezbollah procurement companies in Lebanon were able to open accounts and use the bank’s financial platform to buy combat field gear such as drones and optical night vision scopes.
Since he was designated as an SDGT, Hejeij only deepened his involvement with Hezbollah. This includes meeting with senior figures from Hezbollah’s elite Unit 910 (External Security Organization) which is known to be very active in the West Africa region. According to various reports, Hejeij’s meetings with senior 910 officials, including, Talal Hamiyah, the commander of Unit 910 and the men many consider to be Imad Moughnia’s successor, usually took place in such locations as Libreville (Gabon) and Malabo (Equatorial Guinea) where he knows he is safe.
Lately, Hejeij is also involved in the joint efforts between Hezbollah and Iran’s Quds-force in Iraq to use the Iraq’s chaotic economy to further entrench themselves in the country. Hejeij’s involvement in this effort includes a financial infrastructure that allows Hezbollah and Quds Force to carry out transactions via shell companies and banks accounts, that are also used for buying weapons, technologies and combat gear.
As mentioned, in 2015 the US Treasury placed Kassem Hejeij on the “Specially Designated Terrorists Nationals List. In response, in order to save his bank and other companies from harm, Hejeij ostensibly took a step back and seemingly gave up his position as majority shareholder and chairman to his son, Ali.
This move was planned so as to move Ali, just 35 years of age, to the front and head all the family’s businesses, thus allowing Kassem Hejeij to remain active in the background and keep his companies and bank out of harm’s way.
Moreover, despite Ali Kassem’s claims that MEAB has no ties with Hezbollah once his father gave up his position in the bank, there is evidence that Ali himself continues his father’s work or that his father still pulls the strings. As late as mid-2019, MEAB maintained bank accounts that belongs to Adham Tabaja’s companies (such as “Al Inmaa Engineering and Constructing“) in mid of 2019. Tabaja, another designated prominent member of Hizballah’s BAC, is also an old business partner of Kaseem Hejeij. The two cooperated in Iraq on building a network of companies to facilitate Tabaja’s activity.
HEJEIJ FAMILY ECONOMIC EMPIRE
|MEAB – Middle East and African Bank||Lebanon|
|Coral Beach Hotel||Lebanon|
|Hejeij Group Holding Sal||Lebanon|
|The Upswing Holding Sal||Lebanon|
|National Broadcasting Network Sal||Lebanon|
|Socofi BTP Gabon (the company through which Hejeij made his fortune)||Gabon|
|Seguibat S.A||Equatorial Guinea|
|Abayak S.A||Equatorial Guinea|
Since MEAB is a tool in Hezbollah’s service, it is crucial to check its list of correspondent banks, which is particularly disturbing. This list includes such names as Banca UBAE SPA in Italy, a Libyan controlled bank in Rome which is associated with Iranian activity, Fransabank (Paris) that was singled out by the US along with 11 other banks that cooperate with Hizballah, and the Banco BPM Spa (Italy) a well-known bank that associated with the Iranian activity as well. Another bank is CBW bank, which is the only correspondent bank for USD. CBW is mostly a fintech bank with minimum due-diligence that is located in a god forsaken town called Weir, Kansas, with an annual sales 2.5 million Dollars. In this context, MEAB serves a dual use, it serves as the financial conduit for Hejeij’s economic empire and a conduit for funneling funds to Hizballah from Iran.
This allows Kassem Hejeij, the head of the Hejeij clan, exploits the international business community to fund Hezbollahs’ independent terror activity.