Lebanon to waive banking secrecy in drug cases
Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri said Wednesday, February 21, Lebanon plans to waive banking secrecy in drugs cases, contrary to what was said in a UN report published a day earlier. "The lifting of banking secrecy in the case of crimes involving the growing, making and trading in drugs is one of the main elements in the bill against money laundering which was sent to parliament October 30," said a statement distributed by Hariri office.
The UN's International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) "noted with regret" in its report on 2000 that the Lebanese government did not intend to lift banking secrecy in drug cases. However, the report did say Lebanon had prevented a resumption of poppy growing and pursued a campaign against illicit cannabis growing.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) did not modify its blacklist on the 15 countries identified as being "uncooperative" in the fight against laundering capital, which was published this month. Lebanon figures high up on that list, which also cites the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, the Cook Islands, Dominica, Israel, Liechtenstein, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Panama, the Philippines, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
The FATF nevertheless cites "impressive strides" achieved by the authorities in seven of those countries, not including Lebanon, who have "for the most part passed all the necessary legislation to correct the failings identified in June 2000."
Hariri indicated on February 15 during a visit to France that he was confident he would see his country taken off the FATF blacklist by putting forward a law by June 2001 that would "amend (the laws on) banking secrecy," which is dear to the Lebanese. —(AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)