This week, Argentine media reported that the police raided a number of casinos and hotels in Puerto Iguazu, near the crossing of the "triple border" between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. The checks were part of an ongoing investigation into the activities of Assad Ahmad Barakat, a Lebanese citizen with alleged links to Hezbollah.
Casino in Argentina, apparently, played a key role in violating the alleged ring of money laundering associated with the Islamic militant group Hezbollah.
Last month, the Financial Information Group of Argentina (UIF) froze the assets of the Barakat clan, a group affiliated with Assad, who was appointed terrorist financier by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the United States (OFAC).
Barakat and 13 others associated with the clan have reportedly made hundreds of visits to the Iguazu Casino over the past few years. One member of the clan, cousin Asad Hasan Ali Barakat, reportedly committed 620 border crossings during this period. All persons listed in the reports live in Brazil or Paraguay, and none of them has any business interests in Argentina.
Argentina casino It was reported that members of the clan crossed the border with Argentina, collecting large amounts of cash that they exchanged for chips in the casino, and then withdrew from the game after the minimum time in the gambling establishment and took out the laundered cash across the border without announcing the amount. According to the authorities, the clan could launder more than ten million US dollars using this method.
It remains unclear what level of complicity the casino or its parent company HCI SA, which owns numerous other casinos and hotel operations in the region, had alleged actions to launder money from the clan. However, this week, Kenneth Blanco, the director of financial crime in the United States (FinCEN), told the participants of the 11th annual conference on money laundering in Las Vegas and Expo, according to which "a report in the casino in Argentina helped bring together "an investigation into the activities of the Clan.