Beirut explosion: Lebanon central bank freezes accounts of port, customs officials

A still image taken from a drone footage shows the damage two days after an explosion in Beirut's port area, Lebanon August 6, 2020. (Reuters)

Lebanon's central bank has decided to freeze the accounts of the heads of Beirut port and Lebanese customs along with five others, following the Beirut port warehouse blast that rocked the capital, according to a central bank directive seen by Reuters and confirmed by the central bank.

The directive, dated August 6, from the central bank special investigation commission for money laundering and terrorism fighting said the decision would be circulated to all banks and financial institutions in Lebanon, the public prosecutor in the appeals court and the head of the banking authority.

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It said the freeze and lifting of banking secrecy would apply to accounts directly or indirectly linked to Beirut Port General Manager Hassan Koraytem, Lebanese Customs Director General Badri Daher and five others, including present and former port and customs officials.

Koraytem and Badri had both told Lebanese broadcasters on Wednesday that several letters had been sent over the years to the country's judiciary requesting the removal of highly-explosive material warehoused at the port which blew up on Tuesday.

French aid

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday that an audit was needed on the Lebanese central bank, among other changes needed in the country, and that the World Bank and United Nations would play a role in any Lebanese reforms.

"If there is no audit of the central bank, in a few months there will be no more imports and then there will be lack of fuel and of food," said Macron, speaking to reporters in Beirut.

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Last Update: Thursday, 06 August 2020 KSA 20:26 - GMT 17:26
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