Covert Transactions: Money Laundering Through Lebanese Banks


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. 

 

 References:

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.comBusiness

News & Financial News – The Wall Street Journal – Wsj.com. Retrieved September 10, 2012, from Wall Street Journal 

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “Covert Transactions: Money Laundering Through Lebanese Banks

  1. What a terrific and inormative article, Justin. Obviously, sanctions are needed to stop this and, although you mention that the United States is acting with ‘strict global sanctions’, it is obvious that stricter sanctions are necessary.
    Do you know what sanctions are currently being used against them?

    1. I completely agree with you that stricter sanctions are needed to deter these actions from continuing to occur. However, should military or physical force be used as a preventive tool instead of UN international sanctions? Currently, their are economic (trade) sanctions aimed at these countries but someone will need to act with a better idea soon because these terrorist organizations and corrupt countries are still operating and creating violence with their illegal funds.

      1. The sanctions that we need are to stop buying their oil. We need to produce our own and get off our dependence on the middle east!
        I am strongly against military action.

  2. Money-laundering has become a business for many people, and not only in Lebanon, but everywhere. It is a crime that is not accepted whether done by Hezbollah or a random citizen. Yet, the drug smuggling is not something i agree to be happening because it is againt Hezbolla’s religious beliefs, and despite your opinion or mine concerning Hezbollah, and despite their somewhat negativity as u say, they are very strict religion wise, so i certainly don’t agree. As for the part about how they are supporting Syria in the process of killing syrian civilians, this is simply politics. They are politically on the same page and for that it is certain that Hezbollah will support Bachar Al Assaad, even if they disagree with the killings. Yet here I would like to point out to pone thing. Let us not forget the support the US provides to Israel, eventhough Israel has done war crimes and caused many massacres in some Arab countries. I suppose war crimes and killings of innocent people and civilians who have nothing to do with military and absolute destruction of houses and infrastructure is part of terrorism as well. The reason Hezbollah supports Syrian rergime is not to support the killings, jjust like the US and Israel, they have the same political agenda.

    1. I agree money laundering is something being done everywhere in the world. To better clarify, it is Iran and Syrian drug smuggling that is funding Hezbollah’s fight. Not so much Hezbollah actually doing the smuggling. Apologize for the confusion. I completely agree that Hezbollah doesn’t support the Syrian killings amongst their civil war. I believe he majority of people across the globe oppose death and destruction but we know it only takes one terrorist plot or a small terrorist link to cause chaos and force military action. Yes, America does support Israel and that is because Israel is America’s main strategic ally in the Middle East and will always have their support. I agree when you talk about political agendas because policy and foreign diplomatic relations are greatly influenced by countries achieving their goals and benefitting from the solution. It is not the countries who want to kill but the small terrorist organizations who cause the conflict, thus bringing the big global powers in to take action.

      1. The difference here is that Israel, as a country, and not only one organization in it, attacks Lebanese lands and civilians. When Hezbollah fires rockets to the Israeli sides, it is directed to the military compounds and destinations that include weapons or military groups. When Israel fires rockets to Lebanon, their destination is homes and schools and infrastructure. Even the airport as what happened in 2006. For that, there is a big difference between the way Hezbollah and Israel deal with their war.

  3. ever since political systems were created, there has always been alliances, so its normal for two parties or countries to have same agenda and goal. the part i dont understand is how the drug smuggling story came up. none of our media or anything we know, even the political parties against Hezbollah, ever spoke about such thing happening, this only shows to which extant American media wants to show Hezobollah as a negative political party, that the media is even making up non- existing stories.

    1. It is from a Wall Street Journal article that I found and did find out that they partially based their article on a report released by a Tel Aviv a few years ago. Although there may not be much media coverage in lebanon which I’m not surprised there is, money laundering/ bad bank transactions have occurred through Lebanese banks. I also wouldn’t be surprised if America did this as a smear campaign against Lebanon, Syria and Iran as well.

  4. its all about pr, America is trying to tarnish the image of Hezbollah, Iran and Syria, so yes it may be a smear campaign.

  5. Lebanon does have money laundering as i previously stated, but so does every other country with a bank in it. Tel Aviv surely wants to view Hezbollah as a terrorist organization-that smuggles drugs- and kills random people. I suggest the only way that you really be convinced Justin of what is really happening on ground, is a visit to Palestine or even Lebanon. I recommend it, very much.

  6. I don’t completely agree that it is a smear campaign but like I said, I wouldn’t be surprised because America’s media is tightly linked to with our government and corporations. Whoever has interests or profits from America backing Israel will create false campaigns to influence public opinion. The media is a also a huge problem, I believe in our electoral process as well. You may find these interesting…(http://www.freepress.net/ownership/chart) (http://mediareformsc.org/index.php/who-owns-our-media-). It is being done because Hezbollah poses a serious threat to America’s presence in the Middle East. Lynn, I do think that the best way to realize hat is going on is to visit and I would love to if I got the opportunity. I have been to Israel but unfortunately was not allowed to be taken to the Palestinian territory there because of the violence.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s