Sao Paulo: A man designated by the U.S. Treasury Department as a high-ranking Hezbollah financier has been arrested by Brazilian federal police after neighbouring country Paraguay sought his detention on identity theft charges, Brazilian authorities announced on Friday.
Lebanese citizen Assad Ahmad Barakat, who was then facing tax evasion charges, is escorted by police to a courthouse in Asuncion, Paraguay, on November 17, 2003. Photo credit: Haaretz
In 2004, U.S. authorities designated Assad Ahmad Barakat as one of Hezbollah’s “most prominent and influential members.” They said he had long served as a treasurer for the group and was an associate of the then-financial director of Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based militant group that is now active in some other countries as well, including Syria.
Brazilian federal police confirmed in a statement that the Brazilian Supreme Court authorized Barakat’s arrest after Paraguayan authorities issued a warrant late in August.
Police also said Argentine authorities accused him of laundering US$10 million through a casino in the border city of Puerto Iguazu.
Barakat was imprisoned in Paraguay from 2002 to 2008 on charges of tax evasion. After his release, he lived in Brazil, and was involved in business activities in Paraguay, Argentina, and Chile.