Lebanese Bank Fined $102 Million For Money Laundering

Published: 27 June 2013


A bank accused of laundering money for Hezbollah agreed to pay $102 million in a settlement with the US government, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

Investigators alleged that Lebanese Central Bank (LCB) played a key role in laundering more than $300 million for Hezbollah, which the US has designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The lawsuit also alleged that LCB aided in the transfer of money to the US to buy used cars on behalf of Hezbollah. The vehicles were sold in West Africa. The investigation claimed LCB facilitated the return of proceeds from the car sales, narcotics trafficking, and other criminal activities to Lebanon, where Hezbollah could get at them.

The US accused LCB of allowing cash transfers, sometimes in excess of $200,000 per day, without performing adequate checks on the source, purpose, or destination of the funds in question.

Authorities seized $150 million from LCB in August 2012 and the $102 million payment will be subtracted from the seized funds. The remaining $48 million will go to the Lebanese subsidiary of Societe Generale, a French banking and financial services company that acquired most of LCB’s assets in 2012.e

Two exchange houses Hezbollah allegedly used to launder the money were also named in the complaint. One of them, Hassan Ayash Exchange, agreed last week to pay more than $700,000 to settle the charges.

The lawsuit had originally sought about $230 million from LCB, and more than $480 million in total.