BEIRUT: Lebanese banks Thursday assured the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon David Hale they were strengthening measures to combat all forms of money laundering, terrorist funding and tax evasion.
“We are preparing, in collaboration with our international audit firm, a manual on AML and FATCA policies and procedures,” Association of Banks in Lebanon President Francois Bassil told the ambassador.
“It will be available very soon to all operating banks in Lebanon,” he said, adding that this would allow for “a standardized and harmonized implementation of the new U.S. regulations.”
He added that Lebanon’s national regulators, headed by the Central Bank and the Banking Control Commission, have traditionally exercised strong supervisory oversight over the sector and were now ensuring that Lebanese banks complied with high international financial standards.
“ Lebanon and the region are passing through very difficult times, the political and security developments of the past 30 months have had a very negative impact on our operations in Lebanon and neighboring countries.
“However, the Lebanese banking sector ... has proven its resilience by emerging strong from previous wars and disturbances. Lebanese banks are still experiencing healthy growth rates and good profitability,” he said.
Bassil added that the Lebanese banking sector had a long history of excellence based on attracting capital and deposits, not just from resident and nonresident Lebanese nationals and companies, but also from other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world.