Beirut- The so-called Hezbollah group has threatened Lebanon’s Central Bank and mainly Lebanese banks after they began implementing special measures in accordance with the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act adopted in the United States.
The threats came after reports that the banks have closed two accounts belonging to two members of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc and a third to the daughter of a former MP and a current party official.
“We have crossed the red line and reached the black line. The U.S. sanctions will not pass,” Industry Minister Hussein al-Hajj Hassan, one of the party’s representatives in the cabinet, was quoted as saying on Thursday.
Information Minister Ramzi Jreij said the government discussed the measures taken by the banks based on orders issued by the Central Bank in accordance with the Hezbollah financing prevention act.
During his press briefing, Jreij said that Prime Minister Tammam Salam decided to follow up the issue with Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh in coordination with the Finance Minister, and if necessary later inform the cabinet about the result of his consultations.
Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc criticized on Thursday the latest circulars issued by Salameh in which he urged Lebanese banks to abide by the U.S. regulations that came into force after U.S. President Barack Obama signed the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act on Dec. 18.
The U.S. regulations say Washington will target those “knowingly facilitating a significant transaction or transactions for” Hezbollah and those “knowingly facilitating a significant transaction or transactions of a person identified on the List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked persons.”
They call for the closure of bank accounts for around 91 individuals and institutions.
Hezbollah’s bloc “totally rejected” the U.S. regulations, saying committing to them means “a violation of Lebanon’s fiscal sovereignty.”
It said Salameh’s circulars are an “unjustified compliance with the fiscal mandate of the U.S. authorities which would worsen the monetary crisis and push the country towards bankruptcy.”
The bloc warned in its statement that such bankruptcy “would create a huge gap between the Lebanese people and banks, further pushing the country towards a dangerous monetary collapse and a chaos that cannot be contained.”
The statement urged Salameh “to review his latest decisions to be in compliance with the national sovereignty.”