A dual Lebanese and U.S. citizen who resides in Vienna, Virginia pleaded guilty today to participating in a conspiracy to launder money as part of a decade-long scheme to ship electronics equipment to a Hizballah-owned television station in Lebanon. In addition, the defendant and her husband pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit tax fraud by concealing income from her employment in Virginia.
According to court documents, Racha Farhat, 44, began laundering money in 2010 and continued to do so until the time of her arrest in February 2021. The scheme involved Farhat receiving money from an unindicted co-conspirator (UCC-1) in Lebanon, which she used to purchase electronics equipment in the United States. Farhat then shipped the items purchased by herself and other co-conspirators overseas, primarily to Lebanon, where UCC-1 supplied at least $175,000 worth of goods to Al Manar TV. Al Manar TV is a Lebanon-based TV station owned and operated by Hizballah. Both Hizballah and Al Manar TV are prohibited entities for a U.S. person to conduct business with under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).
In order to facilitate the purchase of electronics equipment in the United States, UCC-1 used a variety of means to transfer money to Farhat that were designed to conceal the moneys origins. Farhat received over $1 million in wire transfers from Lebanon, more than $500,000 of which went into a third-party bank account that actually was controlled by Farhat. Farhat also received nearly $80,000 worth of money orders that were purchased in a way to evade identification reporting requirements. (Source: U.S. Department of Justice)