Asia Crisis

U.S. imposes sanctions on Tamil Foundation

WASHINGTON, Feb 11 (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on Wednesday on a Maryland foundation it accused of being part of a support network for the Tamil Tiger rebel group battling the Sri Lankan government.

The sanctions against the Tamil Foundation, which Treasury said was a front for the Sri Lanka-based Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, allows the U.S. government to freeze assets the foundation may have in the United States and prohibits U.S. banks and consumers from conducting business deals with it.

"The LTTE, like other terrorist groups, has relied on so-called charities to raise funds and advance its violent aims," said Adam Szubin, director of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

The Tamil Tigers have waged a civil war against the Sri Lanka government that has flared on and off since 1983 and is now one of Asia's longest-running conflicts.

The head of the Tamil Foundation is also president of the Tamils Rehabilitation Organization in the United States, which was named in 2007 as a terrorist support group under a White House executive order.

Over the course of many years, the Tamil Foundation and TRO have co-mingled funds and carried out coordinated financial actions, Treasury said. Additional information links the Tamil Foundation to the TRO through a matching gift program, the department said.

The Treasury Department said the Tamil Foundation is based in Cumberland, Maryland.

Reporting by Nancy Waitz; Editing by Eric Beech