BEIRUT, (Reuters) – Lebanon’s central bank governor Riad Salameh expressed support on Friday for Beirut-based Lebanese Canadian Bank (LCB), which faces U.S. Treasury Department accusations of involvement in money laundering.
A central bank statement quoted Salameh as saying LCB was complying with international and Lebanese anti-money laundering regulations and had a “highly professional administration and high liquidity”.
“We wish to assure Lebanese markets and those who are dealing with this bank that their dealings with it are secure.”
The U.S. Treasury Department designated LCB on Thursday as a “primary money-laundering concern” because of what it said was its involvement in an international money-laundering and drug-trafficking operation with ties to Hezbollah.
Several individuals “involved in this global trafficking and money-laundering network hold or utilise cash deposit accounts at LCB to move hundreds of millions of dollars monthly in cash proceeds from illicit drug sales into the formal financial system,” the Treasury said in a statement.
It said LCB ranked as the eighth-largest Lebanese bank, with more than $5 billion in assets, 35 branches in Lebanon and an office in Montreal.
The privately owned bank said in a statement it “is committed to fully co-operate and co-ordinate with the relevant regulatory authorities in an effort to demonstrate the integrity and transparency of its operations”.
“… Accordingly (the bank) denies knowledge of any involvement in any manner whatsoever in illicit transactions or wrongdoing.”