John Zabaneh Files Suit Against US Treasury Department

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Updated: July 24, 2017

Belizean businessman, John Zabaneh is taking legal recourse against the US Treasury Department for the closure of his banana farm.  The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 in DC Federal Court.  According to an article in The National Law Journal, Zabaneh’s lawsuit is based on his belief that he was unjustly categorized as a drug trafficker by the US Treasury Department which led to the downfall of his business and by extension, the deterioration of Belize’s banana industry.  This move by Zabaneh goes on the backdrop of a 2012 statement that the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued, naming him as a key associate of Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman and the Sinaloa Cartel.  As a result, using the Kingpin Act, the US placed a sanction on Zabaneh and five of his companies; meaning, persons in the US were prohibited from doing any financial or commercial transactions with him and the companies.  In addition, his assets were frozen under US jurisdiction.  In his application, Zabaneh has described the act by the US Treasury Department as being arbitrary and capricious and in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.  Zabaneh is asking the DC Court to revoke the designation with consideration of other forms for just-relief after having to close his citrus and banana farms in Belize and having to endure severed relations with business associates within and outside the United States.  Zabaneh is being represented by DC lawyer, Erich Ferrari who noted that not only Zabaneh’s welfare and his family has been gravely prejudiced since August 7, 2012 but so has that of hundreds of persons who lost their jobs in Belize, as a result.  The US Treasury Department had also designated Zabaneh’s nephew, Dion Zabaneh, and an associate, Daniel Moreno as key players.  John Zabaneh has since denied any involvement with El Chapo.