On Monday, 44-year-old Lebanese-American Racha Farhat pleaded guilty to “participating in a conspiracy to launder money as part of a decade-long scheme to ship electronics equipment to a [Hezbollah]-owned television station,” announced the United States Justice Department.
Court documents reveal that Farhat began laundering money in 2010 up until her arrest in February 2021, using proceeds of illegal activity to buy electronic equipment for Al-Manar TV.
She received money from a co-conspirator (UCC-1) in Lebanon and used it to buy the equipment, which she shipped to other co-conspirators overseas (mainly Lebanon). The co-conspirator then supplied at least $175,000 worth of goods to Al-Manar TV, the report indicated.
“Farhat received direction from UCC-1 as to what equipment to buy, and she lied to vendors about the intended destination of the items, knowing (or being willfully blind to the fact) that at least some of the money was derived from unlawful activity,” wrote the statement.
She also filed U.S. tax returns for the co-conspirator with false information and used the refunds from that to buy more electronics.
The U.S. Justice Department noted that as per the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), it is illegal to conduct business with either Hezbollah or its affiliates, including its television station.
In addition, Farhat and her husband, Hussam Hawi, 46, owe the IRS more than $64,000 for tax fraud offenses. Their sentence is scheduled for September 21st. Farhat is facing a sentence of up to 25 years in prison, while Hawi could get up to 5 years.
The961 learned that Farhat graduated from the Lebanese University and worked at Société Générale de Banque au Liban during her time in Lebanon. SGBL was not immediately available for comment.