US Officials Target Lebanese Exchange Houses for Alleged Links to Drug Group

By Colby Adams

The U.S. Treasury Department plans to designate two Beirut-based currency exchange houses under the Patriot Act for allegedly helping Lebanese drug traffickers launder millions of dollars. In a notice of proposed rulemaking Tuesday, the department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, accused Halawi Exchange and Rmeiti Exchange of acting as institutions of "primary money laundering concern." If finalized, their designations under the Patriot Act would forbid financial institutions from maintaining U.S. correspondent or payable-through accounts for either firm. FinCEN claims the exchange houses laundered proceeds from the sale of used cars in the United States and consumer goods in Asia...