It is high time for the United States to designate Lebanon as a jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern. A major American NGO* has actually asked Deka International SA, in Luxembourg, to divest itself of Lebanese sovereign bonds. Its argument tracks issues with which we we are all, sadly, very familiar:
(1) Hezbollah is laundering drug trafficking & smuggling profits through the purchase of Lebanese sovereign debt.
(2) The Lebanese banking system generally accepts large cash deposits without question.
(3) Iranian sanctions evasion efforts are facilitated by passing funds through Lebanese banks.
(4) Terrorist financing, for a number of specially designated global terrorist organisations, flows through Lebanese banks.
|Green represents Hizbollah-controlled territory|
For some reason, the United States, which supports the beleaguered national government in Beirut, has utterly failed to deal with the reality. With Hezbollah, which is in actual control of several ministerial posts, several banks, and the entire southern portion of the country, funded in large part by Iran, it seems that there's no other choice.
If I was a director of compliance at a major international bank in the EU, or North America, I would take a hard look at all my clients' financial transactions with the Lebanese financial system, and close accounts that pose a risk to the bank forthwith. I would not want my bank to be found later to be a terrorist facilitator.
Will the US designate Lebanon ?
*United against Nuclear Iran