1/26/10

passenger of interest

According to reports*, one of the people killed in the Ethiopian plane crash off the coast of Lebanon was Hassan Tajideen, the administrator of Angolan-based food import company Arosfran.

A short report in PropertyWeek.com, (UK) 12/17/07:

Trocadero boss in $20m fraud suit
http://www.propertyweek.com/story.asp?storycode=3102458#ixzz0dll7KIat
In documents filed at the High Court, Golfrate’s new owners, Hassan Tajideen, his brother Kassim and Nasser Eid, allege that Aziz – whose company Criterion Capital is worth £620m – doctored accounts, invented false expenses claims and used company money to pay for luxury trips.

In 2003 Kassim Tajideen was arrested in Belgium in connection with fraud, money laundering and diamond smuggling, although he was never charged.

Aziz declined to comment, other than to say that he was fighting the case and would file a counter-claim.
Asif Aziz is the Chief Executive of Criterion Capital. From Criterion's website:
Asif's career began in 1992 at Morgan Grenfell Laurie, where he advised international clients on their real estate strategies. In 1995, he founded an FMCG distribution company and negotiated exclusive territory distribution agreements with Nestle, Unilever and Kraft. {See this post at aangirfan for recent activity regarding Kraft Foods. Kraft Foods is very pro-Israel.} This business was sold in 2005, allowing Asif to focus full time on his role as investment advisor.
A list of the ten wealthiest Muslims in the UK, dated 6/25/06, in the Islamic Times, included Asif Aziz and family:
7- Asif Aziz and Family - Born in Malawi - 39 year old Asif and his Golftrate Group bought the Trocadero in Piccadilly for 200 million pounds. The Golftrate group owns assets worth at least 620 million pounds, and with interests in Africa, the family is said to be worth many millions more. Asif himself, is said to be worth around 100 million pounds.
A Telegraph.co.uk story expanded on the allegations against Aziz, 12/16/07:

Asif Aziz, the property magnate who owns the Trocadero, is being sued for $20m over claims that he defrauded a Lebanese businessman once alleged to be involved with the trade in African "blood diamonds". [ 4 years earlier -- he was not charged ]

Aziz is accused of illegally ramping the price of Golfrate Africa and Ovlas Trading, two Angolan food manufacturing businesses he sold in 2005, just before he bought the Trocadero, a vast building on London's Piccadilly Circus that houses shops, restaurants, a cinema and Funland, an indoor fairground.

In documents filed at the High Court and obtained by The Sunday Telegraph, Golfrate's new owners, Hassan Tajideen, his brother Kassim and Nasser Eid, allege that Aziz - whose company Criterion Capital is worth £620m - doctored accounts, invented false expenses claims and used company money to pay for luxury trips. In 2003 Kassim Tajideen was arrested in Belgium in connection with fraud, money laundering and diamond smuggling, although he was never charged.

Aziz declined to comment, other than to say that he was fighting the case and would file a counter-claim.

The Lebanese claim that Aziz, who is personally worth more than £100m, asked his company accountants to exaggerate the value of the companies, which package and distribute food in Angola.

The High Court claim form refers to a series of e-mails sent by Aziz to his chief accountant, Clifford Gundry.

In one e-mail Aziz allegedly asks: "Will they check each figure - can we not bullshit the numbers another way? Food for thought."

In a further e-mail littered with spelling mistakes to another executive, Aziz allegedly says: "This morning I had a discussion with Clifford on BULSHITTING [sic] issue. There are following thing [sic] which could be maneuvered [sic] but possibilities are little. STOCK: Easiest thing to manipulate."

The new owners also claim that Aziz falsified a series of expenses claims or spent money on expensive luxury clothes and trips just before selling the company on.

...The claim also details $51,200 spent on car hire, according to a voucher in the companies' accounts.

"Attached to the said voucher was a copy of a purported 'agreement' dated 1 May 2005 between Mr Aziz (purportedly signing in his capacity as "Honorary Consul of Malawi"), and Mr Rehman [another company executive], who signed on behalf of Golfrate. Under the terms of the 'agreement' Golfrate purportedly rented four vehicles at a rate of US$6,400 per month from the Malawi Consulate."

Malawi-born Aziz was forced to abandon plans for a 503-bedroom hotel in the Trocadero last month when Westminster councillors criticised his redesign for the building. They branded as "hideous" a planned new glass fa├žade that was to be lit up with different colours.

It was the second time Westminster Council had turned down Aziz's redevelopment plans, which he can resubmit early next year.

^^^^^^^

On January 25, 2010, the BBC very helpfully reported on the history of the Lebanese in West Africa, so you would know these following important things:

The crash...has highlighted the strong ties between Lebanon and Africa.

Many passengers are believed to have been on their way to West Africa, where Lebanese are the biggest non-African migrant community.

...Nevertheless, the Lebanese community across West Africa, thought to be between 80,000 and 250,000 strong, has not only continued to do business but has thrived.

...The Lebanese in West Africa have always been merchants, using their connections abroad to source goods for import, and - like other migrant groups - they use their family networks to keep their costs down. As a result they have built a strong economic presence across the region.

Nowadays, the Lebanese community has interests in many areas and are the backbone of most markets - car importing, mining, oil services, defence contracts - and the more shadowy worlds of gun-running, diamond-smuggling and crude-oil theft.

...Many Africans say openly how much they hate the Lebanese in their respective countries. But the Lebanese tenacity, aptitude for business and drive to succeed mean they have been sown into the fabric of West African economics, politics and culture.

You may also recall that DEA director Jay Bergman recently said the following, as reported on 1/4/10 by Reuters:
"As suggested by the recent arrest of three alleged al Qaeda operatives, the expansion of cocaine trafficking through West Africa has provided the venue for an unholy alliance between South American narco-terrorists and Islamic extremists," Bergman said in an interview over the weekend.
Several prominent people were asserting various connections between Venezuela, Iran, FARC, Hamas, Hezbollah, al qaeda, Europe, drugs, airports, etc. a few weeks back. Around the same time -- a flurry of visitors to Lebanon, including David Johnson, assistant secretary for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs.

So we see the narrative setting up. First we heard that the drugs were coming from West Africa, and now we learn that the Lebanese are in West Africa, playing a long-standing dominant role.

And now someone has died in the plane crash, who, you will see, fits into this narrative.

^^^^^^^

On 5/27/09, the US Treasury issued a press release about Kassim Tajideen:
http://www.ustreas.gov/press/releases/tg149.htm

WASHINGTON- The U.S. Department of the Treasury today designated Kassim Tajideen and Abd Al Menhem Qubaysi, two Africa-based supporters of the Hizballah terrorist organization, under E.O. 13224. E.O. 13224 targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism by freezing any assets the designees have under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibiting U.S. persons from engaging in any transactions with them.

"We will continue to take steps to protect the financial system from the threat posed by Hizballah and those who support it," said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey. "Not only is Hizballah itself a terrorist organization with global reach, it also recently acknowledged publicly that it provides support to Hamas."

Kassim Tajideen is an important financial contributor to Hizballah who operates a network of businesses in Lebanon and Africa. He has contributed tens of millions of dollars to Hizballah and has sent funds to Hizballah through his brother, a Hizballah commander in Lebanon. In addition, Kassim Tajideen and his brothers run cover companies for Hizballah in Africa. In 2003, Tajideen was arrested in Belgium in connection with fraud, money laundering, and diamond smuggling. [Though he was never charged. !! They FORGOT to mention that. And they don't name his brother either.]

Abd Al Menhem Qubaysi is a Cote d'Ivoire-based Hizballah supporter and is the personal representative of Hizballah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah. Qubaysi communicates with Hizballah leaders and has hosted senior Hizballah officials traveling to Cote d'Ivoire and other parts of Africa to raise money for Hizballah. Qubaysi plays a visible role in Hizballah activities in Cote d'Ivoire, including speaking at Hizballah fundraising events and sponsoring meetings with high-ranking members of the terrorist organization.

Qubaysi also helped establish an official Hizballah foundation in Cote d'Ivoire which has been used to recruit new members for Hizballah's military ranks in Lebanon.

This information was then gleefully and promptly echoed through the echo chamber by chaps like Matthew Levitt at WINEP, etc.

Although it appears that nobody tracks down Kassim's brother's name. They just refer to him as "his brother, a Hizbollah commander in Lebanon." What, no name?

So is Hassan Tajideen, who died in the plane crash, the brother of Kassim Tajideen, who the US Treasury has designated an "important financial contributor to Hizbullah?" It would seem so from the lawsuit against Asif Aziz.

But whether he was also a Hizbollah commander in Lebanon... ???

He must have had excellent time management skills.

Ovlas Trading SA

We are an import and export company with several branches, wholesales and supermarkets all over West and South Africa. Our operations are mainly in Angola "Grupo Arosfran" & "Golfrate Holdings", D.R. Congo "Congo Futur" & "ATCOM", Sierra Leone "Tajco" & "Tradex", Ghana "Taj Investment" & "SRG Factories", Gambia "Kairaba Supermarkets" & "HT Stores", Mozambique and last but not least South Africa. With offices in Lebanon, China, Brazil and Belgium.

* attempts to confirm lead to dead ends

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