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Lebanese Judiciary to Asharq Al-Awsat: $2.3 Billion Transferred to Swiss Banks

Lebanese Judiciary to Asharq Al-Awsat: $2.3 Billion Transferred to Swiss Banks

Wednesday, 5 February, 2020 - 08:00
A Lebanese protester takes part in an anti-government demonstration in front of the central bank building in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon on October 28, 2019. AFP file photo

Beirut First Examining Magistrate Ghassan Oueidat has confirmed receiving a letter from the Banking Control Commission of Lebanon (BBCL) stating that $2.276 billion have been transferred from the accounts of some depositors to a number of banks in Switzerland.

“However, the response of BBCL noted that around 60 percent of the transfers are in the forms of Letters of Credit (LC),” Oueidat told Asharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday.

The Central Criminal Investigation Department, under Oueidat’s direct supervision, launched an investigations late December following reports that Lebanese politicians had transferred billions of dollars abroad in 2019.

Financial expert Dr. Marwan Iskandar had dropped the bombshell, leading to a resentment among the public especially at a time when banks are imposing tight restrictions on depositor withdrawals and are prohibiting transfers abroad.

Oueidat said he received this week BBCL’s response to a letter he had sent to inquire about the transfer of billions.

“I sent a copy of this letter to the Special Investigation Commission on fighting money laundering at the Central Bank to investigate the matter, to name those behind the transfers and to find out if the sources of money were suspicious,” Oueidat said.

A Swiss official informed Iskandar last year that the transferred funds amounted to two billion dollars, and they belonged to nine Lebanese politicians.

So far, the Lebanese Judiciary has not received a response from the Swiss authorities.

A judicial source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Public Prosecutor’s office would take the necessary measures in light of the results of the investigation conducted by the Central Bank.

“There is a shared responsibility between the owners of those accounts and the banks, which accepted to transfer the money to Switzerland,” the source said.

He added that the names of people who made the transfers would be revealed soon to members of the Central Bank’s Special Investigation Commission.

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