Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Lebanon: Raids Against Financial Institutions on Suspicion of Sending ‘Huge Sums’ to ISIS | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Lebanon’s Security Forces carry out raids at banking institutions and financial companies in the commercial Hamra district of Beirut as part of an investigation into cash transfers to ISIS on March 8, 2017. Photo: ANWAR AMRO / AFP

Beirut- Lebanese authorities have raided currency exchange offices and money transfer companies on suspicion they sent huge sums to ISIS, within the country’s efforts to fight terror financing.

Lebanese security sources told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the raids started on Tuesday against several institutions, which were suspected of transferring big amounts of money to areas controlled by ISIS in Syria’s Raqqa and elsewhere.

The raids were made against currency exchange offices and financial institutions in Beirut, in cooperation with the Army Intelligence, which carried out a raid in the area of Sin el-Fil.

While Lebanese local news agencies reported that the sums amounted to around $20 million, a judicial source quoted by AFP said that those numbers were exaggerated.

Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA) said on Wednesday that the General Security agency raided a number of exchange offices in Beirut over suspicions of dealing and transferring money to ISIS.

The field reporter added that the authorities raided an exchange office in Saroulla area, Hamra Street in Beirut, arresting two suspected persons.

It also raided other exchange offices in Tareek El-Jdideh and Al-Rihab area.

A number of people had been detained for investigation but were not yet formally under arrest.

In a statement, General Security stressed its commitment to fighting terrorism and its sources of funding, in cooperation with other law enforcement agencies.

Lebanon’s Central Bank imposes strict rules on financial institutions intended to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing, including caps on the amount that can be transferred overseas without additional supporting paperwork.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, head of the Lebanese Money Exchange Union Elias Srour said authorized exchange offices were adopting legal and strict measures in transfer transactions.

He added that current efforts were focused at uncovering illegal offices and halting their activities.