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Belize named as laundering haven for ISIS associates

Posted: Friday, November 27, 2015. 3:35 pm CST.

Friday, November 27, 2015.  BMG: The United States Treasury Department named Belize as one of several destinations where business associates of the terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS) have laundered money through the use of shell companies.

The Obama administration accused Syria’s government of purchasing oil from ISIS and blacklisted a Syrian-Russian businessman suspected of facilitating those transactions.

The U.S. Treasury Department also penalized Russian and Cypriot businessmen and companies suspected of helping the Syrian central bank evade international sanctions through a web of companies based in Russia, Cyprus and Belize.

The Belize firm linked to the ISIS associates is Kremsont Commercial Inc. which is listed as the corner of Eyre Street and Hutson Street at the Blake Building in Belize City.thumb_771_2014080614.14.38

There is no contact information for the firm. The media made several attempts to contact the Director of the International Financial Services Commission (IFSC), Nery Matus, Financial Secretary Joseph Waight and Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) Director Eric Eusey but none of them were available for comment.

The revelation further tarnishes Belize’s offshore sector which was come under serious scrutiny over the last few years with multiple separate instances of tax evasion and fraud scam claims and being placed on several international tax haven blacklists.

The Treasury’s actions bar U.S. nationals from doing business with the designated entities and freeze any assets they hold in the U.S. financial system, restricting their access to crucial international financial networks.

Those blacklisted are Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, a wealthy Russian businessman and long-standing president of the World Chess Federation (FIDE);  George Haswani, a Syrian businessman; Mudalal Khuri, who allegedly represents Syrian regime business and financial interests in Russia and owns five of the designated entities; and Nicos Nicolaou, a Cypriot national who allegedly works for a number of Khuri-linked companies.

U.S. officials have long voiced concerns that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was strengthening ISIS finances by purchasing oil produced by the militant group on territory that used to be controlled by Damascus. However, Wednesday’scharges are the most explicit and direct accusations by the U.S., and the first time sanctions have been imposed over the regime’s oil trade.

“The United States will continue targeting the finances of those enabling Assad to continue inflicting violence on the Syrian people,” the Treasury Department’s acting undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Adam Szubin, said.

ISIS jihadists have seized swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq and sold crude oil from seized refineries on the black market. Washington announced Monday that U.S. warplanes had destroyed 283 fuel tankers that were being used to transport oil to help fund the group in eastern Syria.


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