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US Urges Lebanon to Distance ‘Hezbollah’ from Financial Sector

US Urges Lebanon to Distance ‘Hezbollah’ from Financial Sector

Wednesday, 24 January, 2018 - 11:45
President Michel Aoun meets with US Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing Marshall Billingslea at Baabda Palace. Dalati and Nohra photo

US Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing Marshall Billingslea has urged Lebanon to ensure “Hezbollah” is not part of the financial sector, the US embassy in Beirut said.


The mission said that Billingslea’s two-day visit to Beirut this week was aimed at discussing ways to combat illicit finance, including financing of Hezbollah’s “terrorist and trafficking activities.”


During the visit, the US official met with President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Minister of Finance Ali Hassan Khalil, Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh, Chairman of the Banking Control Commission Samir Hammoud, the Association of Banks of Lebanon, and the Union of Arab Banks.


In his meetings, Billingslea “stressed the importance of countering Iranian malign activity in Lebanon, and the US commitment to help Lebanon protect its financial system from Hezbollah, ISIS, and other terrorist organizations,” the embassy said in a statement.


“Billingslea also urged Lebanon to take every possible measure to ensure Hezbollah is not part of the financial sector,” it said.


Billingslea “highlighted the close partnership that the US government has with the Central Bank of Lebanon and Lebanese financial institutions, and reiterated the importance of adhering to US sanctions.”


The US Congress adopted a law in 2015 for sanctions against banks that knowingly finance Hezbollah.


Billingslea reiterated Washington’s commitment to protect and promote the Lebanese financial system and to support a stable and prosperous Lebanon, the US embassy added.


His visit came after US Attorney General Jeff Session's announcement earlier this month that the Justice Department is forming a team of prosecutors to investigate drug trafficking and money laundering activity linked to Hezbollah.


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