No funds transferred out of Lebanon: BankMed, IMMS statement

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Following news that Lebanese bank BankMed and oil trader IMMS settled a $1 billion lawsuit, the parties issued a joint statement that the settlement did not involve any transfer of funds outside Lebanon and no deposit blocked with BankMed was broken or withdrawn.

The deposit will remain blocked until its maturity, in accordance with its original terms, the joint statement said.

The bank had been sued by IMMS for failing to return $1 billion of its deposits when requested, according to a document quoted by Reuters. Major Western banks including JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, BNY Mellon, and Standard Chartered Bank were also named in the suit as BankMed had been using these banks to facilitate large US dollar transactions, a court filing alleged.

Both parties said they had settled the dispute amicably, but issued the statement “in light of recent erroneous information in the press and on social media.”

IMMS, owned by Murtaza Lakhani, added that they are an independent privately owned firm, with no other shareholders.

“Accordingly, any statement or speculation about the participation of Lebanese persons or entities in the capital of IMMS or in IMMS’ funds with BankMed is entirely incorrect,” the statement said.

The lawsuit settlement, details of which are undisclosed, comes as Lebanon is in the midst of ongoing economic and currency crises, which has been exacerbated by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and subsequent nationwide lockdown.

Officials have said the country’s finance sector is bloated “four times over,” and is in desperate need of reform. A leaked cabinet plan last week set out a path to reform the Lebanese banking system, but experts are skeptical of its feasibility and whether or not it will be implemented.

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