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Belgian group hit by U.S. sanctions denies Hezbollah links

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A Belgian company at the heart of fresh U.S. sanctions targeting Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon said on Friday that it did not finance political parties or movements and that the links suggested by the U.S. Treasury were false.

Energy services firm Global Trading Group, based in the port city of Antwerp, was blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury on Thursday, as part of new measures aimed at Iran and Hezbollah since U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal last week.

The U.S. Treasury said the company’s director Mohammad Ibrahim Bazzi was a Hezbollah financier operating through Belgium, Lebanon and Iraq.

“It is not true. It is a lie. We are not dealing with political parties,” a spokesman for the company told Reuters.

Global Trading Group had assets of some 26 million euros ($30.67 million) and an operating profit of 1.4 million euros in 2016 according to its most recent filing with the central bank.

Belgium’s federal prosecutor was not immediately available for comment on whether the U.S. sanctions would lead to a separate investigation in Belgium.

Asked whether the company feared consequences for its business from the U.S. sanctions, the spokesman said this was not the case.

“No. We are a clean company, everything is in the open,” he said.

Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Alastair Macdonald and Peter Graff