- Will he keep smiling? -
Considering the length of the New York Time’s exposé on Hezbollah’s finances and the Lebanese Canadian Bank (again, I strongly recommend that you read it) , you will be forgiven if you didn’t reach the very last paragraphs, specifically those that deal with Banque Du Liban’s Governor Riad Salameh’s cooperation with the treasury department and “terorrism financing”.
Long story short, there were two hundred bank accounts in the LCB that were identified as “suspect” and that the SGBL has refused to take in after acquiring the LCB’s assets. This left two hundred millionaires with potential Hezbollah connections as bank orphans who are shopping for a place to put their money in. Many banks would love their business, but the American treasury department would also like to keep its eye on them. For that to work, governor Salameh needs to cooperate with them.
Daniel L. Glaser, assistant Treasury secretary for terrorism financing, issued what seemed like a warning in the Times article:
What the Central Bank hasn’t fully demonstrated, and the jury is still out, is whether they will use [Governor Salameh's cooperation on the Lebanese Canadian Bank] as a launching pad to ensure that these illicit actors aren’t migrating elsewhere
The Times reporter also did his homework and followed up. Notice the skeptical language he’s using:
The signs are not terribly encouraging. The Central Bank governor, Riad Salameh, cut short an interview when asked about the aftermath of the American action, calling it an “old story.” As for those nearly 200 suspect accounts, Mr. Salameh would only say that he does not involve himself in such commercial questions.
Privately, he has played down the findings to the Treasury Department, attributing much of the suspicious activity to peculiarities in the way business is done in Africa. Those accounts he did deem problematic, he told the Americans, have been referred to Lebanon’s general prosecutor. But the prosecutor refused to comment, and his deputy, who handles money-laundering inquiries, said last week that he had received nothing.
In fact, as Treasury officials acknowledge, on Mr. Salameh’s watch, most of the accounts were simply transferred to several other Lebanese banks.
I don’t know about you, but this seems like a big and scary “I am watching you” directed at Governor Salameh.
Also: Governor Riad Salameh Gets An Earful In Washington