As the Syrian civil war continues to bring chaos and instability to the Middle East region, many global states and individuals remain threatened by the on-going violent and illegal activities occurring there. According to the U.S. and other official reports, Hezbollah, in close association with Iran, is supplying the Syrian government with the resources and funds necessary for them to further their murderous reign amongst the Syrian population.
David Cohen, the Treasury’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence reports that, “Hezbollah’s extensive support to the Syrian government’s violent suppression of the Syrian people exposes the true nature of this terrorist organization and its destabilizing presence in the region… Long after the Assad regime is gone, the people of Syria and the entire global community will remember that Hezbollah, and its patron Iran, contributed to the regime’s murder of countless innocent Syrians.”
An estimated 20,000 people over a 17th month span have been killed by Bashar al-Assad’s regime. As a result of Assad’s irrational and outlandish actions, the U.S. has implemented various international economic sanctions against Syria and its terror oriented partners in order to tarnish their funds. However, modern accords of Hezbollah related money-laundering activity through Lebanese banks has been linked to the Syrian government in an attempt to evade these sanctions. Wall Street Journal. These new reports have triggered concerns from the United States government and are leading to a greater investigation into this matter by the U.S Treasury Department, the DEA and Lebanese officials.
This suspected operation involves hundreds of millions of dollars in drug-related revenue that has been pouring into Assad’s regime. President Assad is allegedly escaping international sanctions by moving money through banking systems in Lebanon and although there is currently some oversight of the Beirut centered Lebanese banking industry, a deeper monitoring will only benefit the complete crippling of his scheme. The increased alliances and transactions between the Assad regime, Iran and Hezbollah occupied Lebanon means that these state actors are finding successful channels to operate even with strict global sanctions, which aggravates the U.S. and decreases the little positive relations they had with those axis-middle eastern powers. The U.S Treasury Department suspects that the Lebanese Canadian Bank has assisted Hezbollah, Iran and the Syrian government in facilitating the movement of their illegal drug profits, some via intricate trade routes in West Africa, Latin America and even the United States. A lack of effective oversight of these illegal laundering activities has the U.S concerned that this money laundering operation has spread throughout multiple Lebanese banks in Beirut. The U.S. has found it difficult to trace and deter the suspected illegal bank accounts, and can only rely on a few specific findings to back their claims. However, Hezbollah and their state associates have negated all accusations set at exposing their illegal drug smuggling and laundering activities. Furthermore, Hezbollah’s chief Hassan Nasralla stated, “They say a lot of things that are far from reality and are part of the media war against Hezbollah…U.S. actions are aimed at weakening the movement and its military campaign against Israel.” Whether that statement holds truth, America’s forceful and persistent nature has been identified to do just that.
Lebanon rejects money laundering allegations – Press TV News
Some Lebanese bankers are partnering with Beirut financial authorities in the attempt to further investigate and root out the foundation of these illegal money-laundering operations. Executives of Société Générale (SGBL), a giant partially owned French banking firm whose been accused of participating in laundering activities, with help from global consulting firms, has taken steps to assure that these operations are discontinued. Among the consulting groups are Delloitte LLP, Ernst and Young LLP and the Ashcroft group. Their goal is to monitor the LCB and SGBL and audit their assets in the hope of discovering and preventing future laundering activities and correcting the infrastructure of their banking activities.
Leaked government cables have exposed that for the past seven years, the United States and Israel have been focused on ending the LCB and SGBL direct financial assistance with Hezbollah, Syria and Iran. It is ironic to notice how SGBL has agreed to receive assistance in combatting the money-laundering efforts that take place through their banks because in they lose money. Maybe constant pressure from international actors has caused them to stop their secret illegal operation. Since 2007, top officials of SGBL have spoken about major change in their financial systems yet, in a region of disorder and instability, can the U.S and Israel afford to believe these actions seize to exist.
Arabiya. (2012, August 10). U.S. adds Hezbollah to Syria sanctions list over ties to
Assad’s regime. Retrieved September 10, 2012, from http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/08/10/231516.html
Soloman, J. (2012, April 26). U.S. Probes Lebanon Banking Deals – WSJ.com. Business