DE RUEHSO #0269 0722022
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 132022Z MAR 06
FM AMCONSUL SAO PAULO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4648
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION IMMEDIATE 2441
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT IMMEDIATE 0021
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA IMMEDIATE 5809
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES IMMEDIATE 2090
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO IMMEDIATE 1857
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO IMMEDIATE 1604
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE IMMEDIATE 2759
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO IMMEDIATE 6892
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 0001
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUCNFB/FBI WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE UNCLAS SAO PAULO 000269
STATE FOR INL - ERINDLER; S/CT FOR NNOYES; WHA/BSC FOR
CCROFT; NEA FOR DAS DIBBLER
TREASURY FOR TFI-C
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: LEBANESE SUSPECT IN HARIRI ASSASSINATION ARRESTED
REF: 05 BEIRUT 2216
1. (U) This cable was coordinated with Embassy Brasilia.
2. (SBU) Sao Paulo State Civil Police arrested Rana Abdel
Rahim Koleilat (PDOB Lebanon 23 JAN 1976) on March 12 based
on an Interpol warrant for her involvement in the mid-2003
collapse of the Lebanese-based Al-Madina Bank. She is the
main suspect in the USD one billion fraud that allegedly
involved money laundering for various Islamic extremist
groups. Koleilat was arrested in the Parthenon Accor Hotel
in the Santana district of Sao Paulo based on an anonymous
tip. She had a British passport (suspected to be fake) with
her real name, as well an Egyptian passport with the name
Fakhriya Mhanna. A Civil Police spokesman told the press
that Koleilat tried to bribe Brazilian police with USD
200,000 in an unsuccessful attempt to release her. Lebanese
Consul General in Sao Paulo Joseph Sayah told us that she has
apparently been in Brazil for six months (including in Rio de
Janeiro and other cities) and is in an illegal immigration
status in Brazil since she had overstayed her initial entry
permit, even if the passport she used turns out to be real.
Sayah also told us that the UN Independent International
Investigation Commission set up to look into the February
2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri
wants to question her with regard to the assassination, since
Syrian Military Intelligence Chief Rustom Ghazaleh, the chief
suspect in the Hariri assassination, was heavily involved in
the Al-Madina Bank's money laundering scheme.
3. (SBU) Koleilat is to be turned over shortly to the custody
of the Federal Police, which has jurisdiction over Interpol
cases. While Lebanese CG Sayah confirmed that Lebanon and
Brazil do not have an extradition treaty, both Sayah and
Civil Police contacts told us they expect Koleilat will be
deported to Lebanon. He added that he has seen Koleilat in
custody and that she seems willing to return to Lebanon.
Sayah told us the UN Investigation Commission is aware of
Koleilat's arrest and has communicated to the Brazilian
Mission at the UN their request to interrogate her. Sayah
asserted that all UN member countries, like Brazil, are
obligated to assist the Commission.
4. (SBU) Sayah, initially concerned that Koleilat would bribe
her way to freedom, seems more confident she will stay in
jail for now. Post has let various police contacts know our
interest in keeping her detained until she can be removed to
Lebanon. RSO is working via channels to ensure Interpol and
the British Consulate act quickly to provide Brazilian police
with whatever they need to move the case forward.
5. (SBU) Action Request: Mission Brazil requests guidance
from the Department on any actions to be taken with regard to
the Koleilat case.
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