June 2, 2015 / 9:10 PM / 5 years ago

Gambia expels Lebanese businessman accused of Hezbollah ties

BANJUL, June 2 (Reuters) - A Lebanese businessman accused by the United States of providing financial support to the Lebanese militant movement Hezbollah left Gambia at the weekend in compliance with an expulsion order, government sources said.

Husayn Tajideen, known locally as an importer of rice and flour to the small West African country, was accused of “unacceptable business practices that are detrimental to the Gambian economy”, state television said last week.

It added that he had 30 days to close all local businesses.

Tajideen was not immediately reachable for comment. Staff at a supermarket that serves as one of his main businesses in Gambia declined to comment on his expulsion.

Tajideen’s family has in the past denied accusations that some of its businesses serve as fronts for Hezbollah.

The United States accuses Tajideen and two brothers of running an African business network reaching as far as Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo that helps finance Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Shi’ite Muslim group.

Gambia ordered Tajideen’s expulsion once before in 2013, accusing him of profiteering, although he later received a presidential pardon for unclear reasons. It was not immediately clear if the other two brothers are residents of Gambia.

On Monday, Trust Bank Gambia Ltd said that money transfer firm Western Union had terminated its contract with the bank, accusing it of links with an individual on an U.S. anti-terrorism list, without naming the person.

The government sources said the individual in question was Tajideen.

“Western Union stated that the proprietor of one of our point of sale shops was on the U.S. anti-terrorism list and, therefore, our business link with the shop contravenes the law and the rules of our Agreement,” the bank said in a statement.

The bank added that discussions were going on to renew its contract with Western Union. (Reporting by Pap Saine; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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