Lebanon’s Parliament Passes Bill against Money Laundering
Lebanon’s parliament endorsed on Tuesday an internationally demanded draft law to combat money laundering, reported the Daily Star newspaper.
The country’s political authorities faced heavy pressure to endorse the bill before June, as the international financial community had threatened to stop dealing with Lebanon if the government failed to ratify the law.
In June, the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force will review a blacklist of 15 countries that were not cooperating in the fight against money laundering.
Aware of this situation, MPs were clearly ready to cooperate, said the paper.
As endorsed, the draft stipulates jail terms of three to seven years for those guilty of or implicated in money-laundering operations.
It also stipulates the formation of an independent committee at the Central Bank that will investigate money-laundering operations and ensure the law is implemented properly.
The draft initially suggested that the four-member committee would include the Central Bank governor, the head of the Banking Control Commission, the judge appointed to the Higher Banking Commission, and the head of the Association of Lebanese Banks, added the paper.
But a number of MPs, including Speaker Nabih Berri, argued that the committee should be exclusively public-sector in make-up, meaning that it need not include the head of the Banks Association.
Berri, continued the paper, argued that if a private bank, for which the head of the Banks Association works or in which he is a shareholder, were implicated in money laundering, it would be unacceptable to have the that person investigating the case.
Premier Rafiq Hariri supported Berri’s comments, according to the paper.
Minister of State Bahij Tabbara concurred, arguing that the presence of the association president’s presence would allow him or her to learn of secrets involving other banks – Albawaba.com