US Alleges $160 Million in Art, Diamonds Used to Finance Terror

(Bloomberg) — A Lebanese man and eight associates were charged in New York with violating US sanctions by using about $160 million in artworks and diamonds to help finance the terrorist organization Hezbollah.

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Nazem Ahmad, who the US claims is a diamond smuggler and art collector, was charged in a nine-count indictment filed by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn on Tuesday. He isn’t in custody, the government said.

Ahmad was sanctioned by the US in December 2019, prohibiting him from engaging in transactions with anyone in the US, the government said. Still, he and his co-conspirators used a complex web of business entities to obtain valuable works from US-based artists and galleries, and also secured US-based diamond-grading services, Brooklyn US Attorney Breon Peace said.

One of Ahmad’s co-defendants was arrested in the UK, and the US is seeking his extradition. The others remain at large outside the US.

The case is US v. Ahmad, 23-cr-139, US District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).

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