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Lebanon crisis

Lebanon’s political, economic elite ‘abusing’ country’s banking system: US Treasury

US officials thanked the Lebanese government for its “strong stance opposing the unjustified, unprovoked, and premeditated invasion of Ukraine.”

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Senior US officials from the Treasury Department told Lebanese officials during a recent trip to Beirut that the country’s political and economic elite were “abusing” the banking system, a statement released Wednesday said.

“The delegation also raised concerns about abuses within the banking system by members of the political and economic elite,” a statement from the Treasury Department said.

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The delegation, led by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Paul Ahern and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Africa and MENA Eric Meyer, was in Lebanon for a three-day visit.

They met with Lebanese officials, civil society members and the members of the banking sector to “reiterate the US government’s commitment to stand with the Lebanese people during this time of economic turmoil.”

According to World Bank estimates, Lebanon is experiencing one of the worst economic disasters in history.

An IMF program is said to be the only way out of the crisis, exacerbated by decades of corruption and mismanagement by the political elite.

They emphasized the need to make serious efforts to investigate those abuses, particularly by the Banque du Liban and the Special Investigation Commission. They pressed for the appropriate authorities to conduct investigations and perform due diligence on any related transactions.

The US officials raised the “crippling nature of systemic corruption” during their meetings and stressed that tackling corruption was a “pre-requisite to tackling the governance and economic crisis.”

Separately, the US officials deplored “unregulated, pseudo-financial institutions,” citing Hezbollah’s Al-Qard al-Hassan and said such examples jeopardized the credibility of the Lebanese financial system.

The Treasury officials also raised concerns about “abuses within the banking system by members of the political and economic elite.”

They pressed for the needed investigations and due diligence on any transactions.

“The Treasury officials also thanked the Lebanese government for its strong stance opposing the unjustified, unprovoked, and premeditated invasion of Ukraine,” the statement said.

Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and called for the full withdrawal of Russian forces. On Wednesday, Lebanon voted alongside other Arab nations at the United Nations, condemning the Russian invasion.

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