Hezbollah’s Consigliere – Achi Law Firm
Article RadarTHIS ARTICLE CONNECT:
- External Security Organization (Unit 910) Hezbollah's External Security Organization is a an elite and strictly compartmented...[+]
- Achi Law Firm Achi Law Firm provides material services to Hezbollah and other illicit...[+]
- Ali Hussein El-Achi Hussein El-Achi is founding partner of Achi Law Firm. Linked to...[+]
- Salasko Offshore S.A.L. Assi is founder, majority shareholder, the chairman and authorized signatory of...[+]
- Inter Aliment SAL Off-Shore Assi is the chairman, general manager, director general, and authorized signatory...[+]
- Hassan Tabaja Hassan Tabaja is the legal representative for Adham Tabaja (has Power...[+]
- Muhammad ‘Abdallah Al-Amin Muhammad is a Lebanese businessman and merchant whose father Abdallah is...[+]
- Nabil Mahmoud Assaf Assaf is the manager of purchasing and a minority shareholder in...[+]
- Al-Inmaa Group for Tourism Works Majority owner of this real estate development and construction firm is...[+]
Achi Law Firm is a Lebanese firm that provides material services to Hezbollah and other illicit elements involved in violating the oil embargo on Syria. The Firm’s attorneys, cater to the needs of prominent members of Hezbollah’s BAC apparatus as well as those of sanctioned members of Syria’s elite and others who aid Bashar al-Assad regime circumvent the sanctions placed on it.
More often than not, when a company or an individual is designated, it is usually because he’s been directly implicated with an illicit action that violates the sanctions regime. For example, most of the designated individuals mentioned in this report were put under sanctions because they were either members of Hezbollah or part of the organization’s Business Affairs Component (hereafter: BAC) facilitated the organization through their companies. In addition, there are others that violated the oil embargo against Syria. However, for some reason, the ones sanctioned were only those who had direct control over a commercial entity that carried out illicit activity or were members of a terrorist organization, in this case, Hezbollah. But what of those professionals, such as attorneys or accountants, who not only have intimate knowledge of the inner dealings of the sanctioned entities they work for, but are also largely responsible for their ability to carry out the illicit activity for which they were put under sanctions. Moreover, as this report shows, at least in the context of Lebanon, attorneys operate within a certain milieu. This means that if an attorney represents a certain entity or individual that is linked to elements such as Hezbollah or the Syrian regime, it is highly likely that a large number of his clientele come from the same circles. This report, is the first of a series of reports that focus on those who provide the financial and legal vehicles that allow Hezbollah and its facilitators to carry out illicit activity.
Achi Law Firm
There is very little available information on the office. Moreover, while according to whois, the firm’s website was last updated in 2019, its content has changed little since 2013. According to its website, Achi law firm (hereafter: ALF) was founded in 1983 by Ali Hussein al Achi. The firm seems to specialize in criminal as well as civil matters, including: banking and finance, construction and engineering, property and reals estate, taxation, corporate and commercial. According to its website, ALF is one of the most recognized and respected law firms in Lebanon and the Middle East. This, as the table below shows, despite the fact that it does not employ a large number of lawyers.
ALF Key Personnel:
Ali Hussein el-Achi
|Head of corporate/Commercial/Financial||Founding partner. Linked to Hezbollah and to prominent Syrian businessmen.|
Farouk Muhammad Raouf Hammoud
|Head of Real Estate/Construction||Linked to elements of Hezbollah’s BAC (see table in Annex).|
Wael Ali Cheaib
|Head of Competition/Regulation/Trade||Linked to elements of Hezbollah’s BAC (see table in Annex).|
|Rima Hussein||Head of Insolvency/Taxation|
|Nisrine Mansour||Head of Family law|
|Rasha Suhail Muhammad Mansour||Head of Criminal|
|Hussein Ali el-Achi||Head of Domestic and International Affairs||Most likely Ali al-Achi’s son.|
An examination of the table in the Annex, shows that ALF’s attorneys represent a large number of companies owned by Tabaja or affiliated with his network (see table in Annex). These ties also extend to individuals who are part of the Tabaja network but also linked to Hezbollah’s operational aspects. For example, ALF lawyer Faruq Muhammad Raef Hammoud is listed the attorney of “Car Care Center” (see number 11 in the table in the Annex). One of the latter’s co-founders is Hussein Ali Faour, who is also believed to be a contact person for Hezbollah’s 910 unit which is in charge of the terrorist organization’s international operations.
ALF is also linked to other elements that are, in part, linked to the Tabaja and Tajideen networks. As the table in the Annex shows (see companies 14-16), ALF also represents companies linked to Ali Saleh al-Assi and Mustafa Walid Abu Darwish. The two are also linked by family ties. Their business network extends from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Lebanon. Al-Assi has been sanctioned for laundering for Hezbollah financiers, Tabaja and Tajideen. Abu Darwish and Assi hold shares in two companies that are represented by ALF and were sanctioned by OFAC – Inter Aliment SAL Off Shore and Salasko Offshore SAL. In addition, ALF attorney Wael Ali Cheaib, is also listed as the attorney of another company owned by the two – Amasko Off Shore SAL. In addition, Abu Darwish also holds shares in another company represented by ALF, Khojah Real Estate SAL. Other key figures in this company include Ali Salah Assi’s wife, Najat, and Tony Saab, who was sanctioned by the US for illicitly moving money from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Lebanon. Abu Darwish along with Assi’s brother, Abd al-Hamid, is also a co-owner of a food importing company called “Inassi Group“. In July 2018, Abu Darwish was arrested in Kinshasa’s international airport after large amounts of drugs, including cocaine, were found in his possession, he claimed that the narcotics were for his own personal use (his current status is unknown but at the time of his arrest, reports emerged that authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo are under great pressure to release him from custody).
However, ALF’s does not limit itself to strictly to Hezbollah’s BAC activity and is also involved with elements that are part of Hezbollah’s illicit economic activity. For example, Hussein Ali al-Achi is listed as the lawyer of a company, with Lebanese and Belgian shareholders, called “BGH (Holding) SAL” (number 17 in the table in the Annex). An examination of the company’s corporate data, shows that its CEO, Chairman of the board, co-founder and majority shareholder is Imad Abdul Reda Bakri, a Hezbollah financier that laundered money for Hezbollah through his various business dealings in Africa, Europe and South America. According to reports he was also part of Hezbollah’s involvement in selling “conflict diamonds.” It is important to note that BGH Holding Group’s accounting firm, which also handle the affairs of its other subsidiaries (Nascom SAL, BGH for Trading), is the Lebanese branch of the International accounting firm “Grant Thornton”.
ALF and Syria Sanction Busters
ALF’s links to illicit and sanction busting activities is not limited to the services it provides Hezbollah. The firm is also linked to various members of the Syrian elite who are under sanctions. As companies 6&7 in the table in the Annex show, ALF has direct links to both Rami Makhlouf a prominent Syrian businessman and the maternal cousin of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad. Before his recent falling out with his cousin, Makhlouf was considered to be Syria’s wealthiest man and one of the most powerful men in Syria. In 2008 he was designated by OFAC for “improperly benefitting from and aiding the public corruption of Syrian regime officials.” He is also under EU sanctions. Another one of ALF’s clients is Ammar Midhet Sharif a leading Syrian businessman operating in Syria who was placed under EU’s financial sanctions because of his connection to the Syrian regime (see no. 6 in the table in the Annex).
ALF’s leading partner Ali Hussein al-Achi is also a prominent member of a network of companies linked to two interconnected networks of individuals and entities that were sanctioned for violating the oil embargo against Syria. The common link connecting both networks is al-Achi himself. The first network involved Fadi Nabih Nasser. The latter, is a Lebanese–Bulgarian businessman that was placed under OFAC sanctions for being part of a large-scale fuel procurement network that delivered crude oil, fuel and LNG to Syria. Nasser’s company, Nasco Polymers, along with another UAE-based company called Sonex Investment, facilitated shipments to Syrian ports. According to OFAC, Nasser, who controls 80% of Nasco’s shares, ‘has arranged delivery of thousands of tons of fuel to Syrian ports and has received millions of dollars for facilitating such shipments.’
As the table in the Annex shows, (company no.1) Ali Hussein al-Achi is listed as Nasco Polymer’s attorney. But, as the table in the Annex also shows, al-Achi is not only Nasser’s attorney but also his business partner. Al-Achi is listed as the Attorney, founding partner and member of the board of directors in another one of Nasser’s companies called Nasser Petroleum Company Offshore (no. 2 in the table in the Annex), in another one of Nasser’s companies (no. 5 in the table in the Annex), African Polymers Chemicals company, he is listed as both shareholder and attorney.
In addition, al-Achi and Nasser are also connected to a company called Jawa Trading (company no. 7 in the table in the Annex). Al-Achi serves as the company’s attorney while Nasser serves as its Chairman of the board of directors. Interestingly enough, Jawa Trading’s CEO and majority shareholder, Talal al-Haj Ahmed, is also the CEO and majority shareholder of a company called Abar Petroleum. The latter is a company that is affiliated with Rami Makhlouf (via his financial advisor Bassam al-Sabbagh) and more importantly it was also placed under sanctions for working with the Government of Syria ‘to evade sanctions and import crude oil and petroleum products to Syrian ports.’
As this report shows, the Achi Law Firm provides material services to Hezbollah and other illicit elements. The Firm’s attorneys, chief among them Ali Hussein al-Achi, cater to the needs of prominent members of Hezbollah’s BAC apparatus as well as to the needs of sanctioned members of Syria’s elite. Given the close relationship between Hezbollah and Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, it is possible that al-Achi’s connection to Fadi Nabih Nasser on the one hand and his relations with Hezbollah on the other may have had a part in Nasser’s involvement in smuggling oil products into Syria. It is also important to note that while all the companies mentioned in this report are listed in Lebanon, they have business dealings in Europe, Latin America and Africa and will be the subject of subsequent reports.
More importantly, as this report shows, mapping out the clientele of lawyers, accountants and other “technocrats” who are linked to bad elements, is an effective investigative tool that can reveal additional individuals or companies that would’ve gone unnoticed. Moreover, targeting these “technocrats” has the potential of eliminating vast network of illicit connections with one designation, as opposed to taking down companies and individuals one by one.
Companies Affiliated with Hezbollah [*]
|Company Name||Affiliated With||Name of Attorney||Position in the Company||Comments|
|Al-Inmaa Group for Tourism Works (SDGT)||Adham Hussein Tabaja (SDGT) Network (Hezbollah financier)||Ali Hussein al-Achi||Attorney|
|Al-Inmaa Engineering and Contracting SARL (SDGT)||Adham Hussein Tabaja (SDGT) Network (Hezbollah financier)||Ali Hussein al-Achi||Attorney|
|Al-Inmaa General Contractors SARL||Adham Hussein Tabaja (SDGT) Network (Hezbollah financier)||Ali Hussein al-Achi||Attorney|
|Car Care Center (SDGT)||Adham Hussein Tabaja (SDGT) Network (Hezbollah financier)||Faruq Muhammad Raef Hamoud||Attorney||A subsidiary of the al-Inmaa Group. Hussein Ali Faour (SDGT) is listed as a co-founder, partner and authorized signatory of the company. It is important to note that Faour is believed to be the contact person between Unit 910 and Car Care Company.|
|Inter Aliment Sal Offshore (SDGT)||Linked to Mustafa Walid Abu Darwish and Ali Salah Assi||Ali Hussein al-Achi and Wael Ali Cheaib||Attorneys|
|Fun World Company (a/k/a Aalam al-Marah Co SAL)||Adham Hussein Tabaja (SDGT) Network (Hezbollah financier)||Ali Hussein al-Achi||Attorney|
|Madan Tourism Projects Company SAL (a/k/a “Green City”; Moudon SAL)||Adham Hussein Tabaja (SDGT) Network (Hezbollah financier)||Ali Hussein al-Achi||Attorney|
|Lebanese Bread & Confectionery Company SAL||Adham Hussein Tabaja (SDGT) Network (Hezbollah financier)||Ali Hussein al-Achi||Attorney||Jihad Muhammad Qansu (SDGT) was listed as statutory auditor of the company|
|Family House SARL||Adham Hussein Tabaja (SDGT) Network (Hezbollah financier)||Ali Hussein al-Achi||Attorney|
|Farah Tyre Company||Linked to the Tabaja Network||Ali Hussein al-Achi||Attorney|
|Alia Company SARL||Nabil Mahmoud Assaf (SDGT) was listed as an authorized signatory, co-founder and partner of the company, Also linked to the Tabaja Network||Ali Hussein al-Achi||Attorney|
|Development Studies SARL||Adham Hussein Tabaja (SDGT) Network (Hezbollah financier); Nabil Mahmoud Assaf (SDGT)||Ali Hussein al-Achi||Attorney||Nabil Mahmoud Assaf (SDGT) is listed as the director, cofounder, partner and authorized signatory of the company; Issam Ahmad Saad (SDGT) is listed as a co-founder and partner of the company|
|New Land SARL||Adham Hussein Tabaja (SDGT) Network (Hezbollah financier); Nabil Mahmoud Assaf (SDGT)||Ali Hussein al-Achi||Attorney|
|Gresco for Contracting and Trading Company SARL||Adham Hussein Tabaja (SDGT) Network (Hezbollah financier)||Ali Hussein al-Achi||Attorney|
|Mechalab SARL||Adham Hussein Tabaja (SDGT) Network (Hezbollah financier)||Faruq Muhammad Raef Hamoud||Attorney||Hussein Ali Faour (SDGT) is a co-founder. Ali Saleh Shuaib is listed as a co-founder (he is also a co-founder of Car Care Center). Khadir Ali Abi Haidar is the manager (listed as a director in Car Care Center)|
|African Fish Company SAL (offshore)||Linked to the Tabaja Network via the Muhammad Abdallah al-Amin (SDGT) Network (Hezbollah Financier)||Faruq Muhammad Raef Hamoud||Attorney||Muhammad Abdallah al-Amin (SDGT) is listed as a co-founder of the company.|
Jihad Muhammad Qansu (SDGT) was listed as a co-founder of the company; Ali Muhammad Qansu (SDGT) was listed as statutory auditor of the company.
|Amasko Offshore SAL||Linked to Mustafa Walid Abu Darwish and Ali Salah Assi (SDGT)||Wael Ali Cheaib||Attorney|
|Khojah Real Estate||Linked to Mustafa Walid Abu Darwish||Wael Ali Cheaib||Attorney|
|BGH (Holding) SAL||Linked to Imad Abd al-Rida Bakri||Ali Hussein al-Achi||Attorney||Bakri’s was tied to trade in “Conflict Diamonds”. It is important to note that the company’s accountants are the Lebanese branch of Grant Thornton.|
Companies linked to entities and individuals who were placed designated under the Syrian sanction regime [*]
|Company Name||Affiliated With||Name of Attorney||Position in the Company||Comments|
|Nasco Polymers & Chemicals Co Sal- Offshore (SDGT)||Fadi Nabih Nasser (SDGT)||Attorney|
|Nasser Petroleum Company Offshore||Fadi Nabih Nasser (SDGT)||Ali Hussein al-Achi||Attorney, co-founder and member of the board of directors.|
|Nasser Petroleum Group (N.P.G) SAL||Fadi Nabih Nasser (SDGT)||Ali Hussein al-Achi||Attorney|
|societe 3173 ZIKRIL REAL ESTATE SAL||Fadi Nabih Nasser (SDGT)||Ali Hussein al-Achi||Attorney|
|African Polymers & Chemicals Co SAL OFF SHORE||Fadi Nabih Nasser (SDGT)||Ali Hussein al-Achi||Shareholder and Attorney|
|Petro Tala SAL||Fadi Nabih Nasser (SDGT); Ammar Midhet Sharif (SDGT)||Ali Hussein al-Achi||Attorney||Sharif is a Leading Syrian businessman operating in Syria. He is a shareholder of Byblos Bank Syria, Partner and founding partner of Legostones LLC and board member of al-Aqeelsh Takaful Insurance. He is also a relative of Rami Makhlouf.|
|Jawa Trading Sal (Offshore)||Rami Makhlouf, Fadi Nabih Nasser (SDGT)||Ali Hussein al-Achi||Attorney||The company is linked to Abar Petroleum (SDGT) – same CEO: Ali Talal al-Haj Ahmed who is also the majority shareholder in both companies.|
*The identity of all those involved was cross referenced using the Beirut Bar Association’s lawyer’s directory, the names that appear in the firm’s website and the names of the attorneys that represent each company as listed in Lebanon’s commercial register.