That New York Times article about Hezbollah’s finances turned out to be a little amuse-bouche in preparation for the real news: The American government is launching a full on legal war on all parties that have dealt financially with Hezbollah as reported by the Times:
The court action, filed in Manhattan federal court, seeks nearly half a billion dollars in penalties from three Lebanese financial organizations — the now-defunct Lebanese Canadian Bank and two Beirut-based money exchange houses — and 30 auto dealers in the United States. The $480 million in penalties is the sum of the drug proceeds that are alleged to have been laundered; the government is also seeking to freeze and seize assets traceable to those companies.
SGBL, which took in the assets of the Lebanese Canadian Bank (LCB) is safe because it refused to take in suspect accounts. But the court action might involve tracing the assets of the 200 account-holders orphaned by the LCB and who are now probably hosted at other Lebanese Banks. Governor Riad Salameh is in a tough spot as he might find himself forced to cooperate with the legal investigation and shine more light on a publicity-shy Lebanese banking system.
A nice side-story to this entire tale is that sources close to the Association of Banks in Lebanon told Annahar that the 36$M paid by Lebanese banks to the International Tribunal are partly meant as a gesture of goodwill towards an international community which has set its eyes on Lebanese banks for allegations of laundring money and dodging sanctions against Syria.
And yet this is the news they wake up to this morning.