Lebanese bank denies doing banking activities for Hezbollah
BEIRUT (AP) — A Lebanese bank targeted by the U.S. Treasury Department for “knowingly facilitating banking activities” for the militant Hezbollah group denied the charges Friday, saying it abides by international laws.
The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned Jammal Trust Bank on Thursday and added it to its list of global terrorist organizations.
Lebanon Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil tweeted that the country’s banking sector will be able to overcome the repercussions of the Department of Treasury’s decision, adding that deposits of the bank’s clients will be safe.
The bank said it learned about the sanctions “with great surprise” and “denies each and every allegation” on which the Treasury based its action.
The statement also said the bank is committed to “abiding strictly by Central Bank of Lebanon rules and regulations, as well as all international rules and regulations on countering money laundering and financing of terrorism.”
The bank said it shall take appropriate steps in order “to clear its good name,” adding that it would appeal the Treasury’s decision.
The Association of Banks in Lebanon said in a statement Thursday night that it regrets the decision adding that this will not have any effects on the country’s banking sector.
The U.S. has been imposing sanctions on officials from Hezbollah that Washington considers a terrorist organization for years.
The Treasury Department last month targeted a Hezbollah security official and two members of Lebanon’s parliament suspected of using their positions to further the aims of the Iran-backed militia and “bolster Iran’s malign activities.”
In 2011, the Treasury Department accused the Lebanese Canadian Bank of laundering money from drugs and other operations for clients tied to Hezbollah.
Two years later, the bank agreed to pay U.S. authorities $102 million to settle the charges.
Most of the assets of the Lebanese Canadian Bank were later acquired by the Lebanese subsidiary of France’s Societe General.