18 June, 2024
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Hamas financier holds stake in Cyprus company

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Sudanese businessman Abdelbasit Hamza — whose company holdings feature in Cyprus Confidential documents — has been accused of being “a central figure in Hamas’ investment portfolio”, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) said in a report.

An accused financier of Hamas has extensive business ties in Europe and owns a stake in a lucrative Cyprus firm that mines Egyptian gold, a new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the Israeli news outlet Shomrim reveals.

Sudanese businessman Abdelbasit Hamza, an ally of former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, was sanctioned by the United States in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack on Israel for managing Hamas’ investments and for his involvement in the transfer of almost $20 million to the organization, including funds sent directly to a senior Hamas financial officer.

The U.S. Treasury Department accused Hamza of “longstanding ties to terrorism financing,” including past links with companies connected to al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden. He was also sanctioned by the United Kingdom in November.

Leaked documents analyzed by ICIJ and Shomrim reveal Hamza’s longstanding ownership interest in the Cyprus holding company in partnership with a Swiss firm, and that the company’s assets totaled roughly $35 million as of 2018. Hamza has not been sanctioned by the European Union.

The files come from the Cyprus Confidential leak, a trove of more than 3.6 million documents analyzed by ICIJ and 68 media partners, including Shomrim, as part of a recent global investigation.

In the same month as al-Bashir’s ouster, Hamza sold the majority of his shares to Matz Dungash, another Cyprus firm. As a result of this and other purchases, Matz Dungash acquired over 80% of the company’s shares by April 2019. Matz Dungash’s director, Egyptian businessman Hesham ElHazek, is also tied to a toppled autocrat: In the aftermath of President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation in 2011, Canada sanctioned him for corruption, and Egyptian authorities froze his assets. However, ElHazek appears to have found himself back in the good graces of Egypt’s military-dominated government and remains on the board of Matz Holdings.

Hamza told ICIJ and Shomrim in an email that ElHazek owns Matz Dungash and its Cayman Islands-based parent company. He wrote that neither he nor Bliggenstorfer ever received payment from Matz Dungash for their shares in Matz Holdings and that ElHazek has not communicated anything to them about the company’s activities since taking control.

ElHazek did not respond to a request to comment on the findings of this story.

In 2022, Matz Holdings announced plans to invest more than $25 million into expanding production at the Hammash gold mine, one of its two mines. By all accounts, the company continues to oversee production there. An Egyptian government website describes it as holding the concession to the mine. The Egyptian embassy in Washington, D.C., did not respond to questions sent by ICIJ about Matz Holdings and Hamza’s role in the company.

Hamza, through his minority stake in Matz Holdings, still stands to profit from the mine’s production. Last year, the Egyptian media reported that the company’s board of directors approved financial statements showing that the mine produced half a ton of gold in 2020 and 2021, with a total value of roughly $25 million. If the mine maintains that level of production, the revenues from its operation could represent a financial windfall for the accused Hamas financier.

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