Lebanese banks tout compliance with money-laundering laws

Head of Bank Association Joseph Torbey, center right, receives U.S. ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly in Beirut, Monday, May 13, 2013. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: United States Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly paid a visit Monday to the headquarters of the Association of Banks in Lebanon where she was briefed by her hosts about the measures adopted by Lebanese banks to combat money laundering.

The president of ABL, Joseph Torbey, told Connelly that Lebanese banks were prudently and carefully abiding by all the rules and laws to fight money laundering and have taken appropriate measures to tighten banking supervision.

“Our meeting takes place today in circumstances of great tension in our region, where ‘Arab Countries in Transition,’ as the IMF calls them, are witnessing significant changes on all levels: political, social, economic and humanitarian. In the neighboring country, Syria, the fiery situation, as you well know, enters every day a more complicated phase,” Torbey said.

He added Lebanon was under pressure politically and economically.

“By the same token, our banking sector operates in a challenging environment that requires from us a high degree of professionalism. We are facing these challenges with great insight, wisdom and a strong will to go forward in these times of uncertainty,” Torbey explained.

“In all circumstances, our Lebanese banking sector has successfully demonstrated resilience to crisis which has earned us the trust of the international community as being a healthy and safe banking sector.”

He indicated that the ABL delegation recently held successful talks in Washington and New York with U.S. officials who were briefed about the measures Lebanese banks have adopted to ensure that no money laundering takes place.

Last month U.S. authorities designated two Lebanese exchange firms, Kassem Rmeiti & Co. For Exchange and Halawi Exchange Co., as money laundering concerns, while the Lebanese Canadian Bank was blacklisted and subsequently dismantled two years ago.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 14, 2013, on page 5.




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