$102M U.S. settlement clears Lebanese-Canadian Bank
The Lebanese-Canadian Bank has reached a $102 million settlement with the U.S. government over allegations it took part in a scheme to launder drug money and other funds for terrorists, prosecutors said.
The now-defunct Beirut-based bank will forfeit the funds to the U.S. under an agreement approved Tuesday by a federal judge, according to a statement from the office of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
The United States alleged that the bank helped launder at least $329 million through a scheme linked to Hezbollah, which is designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.
The Lebanese Canadian Bank “has resolved the civil forfeiture based on consistent denial of allegations of wrongdoing or management complicity or involvement in terrorist or money laundering activities,” the bank said.
By reaching the deal, it “marked its disassociation with terrorist and money laundering activities,” the bank said.
The bank statement added that in the Stipulation of Order and Settlement, the United States confirmed it did not assert any claims against any of the LCB shareholders, board of directors, chairman and general manager or general manager and their deputies.
The former chairman of the Lebanese-Canadian Bank George Abu Jaoudeh said Wednesday that he was pleased with the settlement with the U.S. government, stressing the move cleared the names of the managers and board of directors.
In August, the U.S. seized $150 million from the proceeds of the sale of the bank’s assets to Societe Generale de Banque au Liban.
The U.S. will keep $102 million of the funds under the settlement approved today. The rest of the money plus an additional $12 million will go to SGBL which acquired certain assets and liabilities of LCB.
The $102 million will be paid within 10 days.
A source close to the case told The Daily Star that the settlement was in the interest of both parties because neither the United States nor LCB wanted this case to drag on for a long time. He added that though the management felt it had a good case, the bank would have likely spent more than $100 million to continue the litigation.
The source added that the case has now closed for good.