French firm charged in US with Islamic State group payments and financing
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. federal court on Monday charged the chief financial officer of Qatar-based business company OneWeb Technologies Inc, which is building an international satellite network for OneWeb and other companies, with helping to funnel money to Islamic State.
The case against chief financial officer Omar Baddar, who is based in Toronto, and former Chief Operating Officer Hamad Al-Jasser is being prosecuted by prosecutors in the United States under a program targeting terrorism financing.
Al-Jasser pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to launder money for the Islamic State terrorist group in May and agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department when he made his initial appearance. He is not expected to be sentenced until the beginning of next year.
Baddar, a Lebanese national, is one of the executives of OneWeb that was charged with conspiring to launder money to support the Islamic State group, according to a joint affidavit by the FBI and U.S. prosecutors in New York that outlines evidence that they say shows the company funneled more than $500 million to finance its operations in Turkey.
OneWeb is building a network of satellites that it intends to provide internet services to people living in remote areas. Authorities said they believe that Baddar and Al-Jasser helped OneWeb and others make wire transfers to banks in Turkey to help make the money for its Turkish operations.
“The defendants used these funds to assist the terrorist organization,” said the Justice Department statement.
OneWeb, which raised money through a $100 million initial public offering in 2013, said on its website that it donated to various charities and religious organizations.
“All monies donated will be returned to the donor and will not impact the donors’ ability to donate to any charity of their choice,” it said in an emailed statement.
The company will be barred from receiving or using donations or funding from foreign countries