The increasingly contentious issue of complicity of some Lebanese banks in terrorist financing and money laundering tied to Iran, Syria and Hezbollah was the topic of discussion at a panel hosted at the Aspen Institute on Wednesday, September 19.
The international community has ratcheted up pressure on Lebanese banks for alleged involvement in money laundering activities and helping Iran and Syria evade international sanctions.
A year into the Syrian uprising, Lebanon has arguably managed to avoid a major spurt of violence many feared would spread in the region. With violence devolving into a protracted bloody fight between the Assad regime and Syrian rebels, Lebanon fears that its own political divisions may be fed by conflict in Syria.
U.S. Treasury Undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence David Cohen sent a clear warning to Lebanese bankers this week when, during a visit to Beirut, he urged them not to allow evasions of U.S.
The Lebanese banking sector came under fire this week with the release of a New York Times report unveiling the involvement of some Lebanese banks with laundry schemes that benefited Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The formation of a government and the renewal of the Central Bank Governor's mandate last week brought back some semblence of stability to Lebanon.
The United States is cracking down on Hezbollah operatives and its financial providers worldwide.