Central Bank Governor Riyad Salameh declared that a team from the International Monetary Fund plans to visit Lebanon in November to review measures adopted by the government to combat money laundering in the country.
He added that the IMF team would hold meetings with the Central Bank, the Banking Control Commission and the Association of Banks in Lebanon. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a supervisory body of the Group of Seven industrialized nations, named Lebanon last June among several countries that were not cooperating in the international fight against money laundering.
FATF highlighted the country’s strict banking secrecy as a factor affecting access to relevant information by both investigative and administrative authorities, and indicated that Lebanon is only applying 15 out of 25 criteria in the fight against dirty money. Mr. Salameh expressed confidence that Lebanon’s name will be dropped from the black list, as it only needs to adopt a few additional measures to meet all of FATF’s requirements.
Mr. Salameh also expressed the need for Parliament to pass a draft law to criminalize money-laundering activity before February 2001, the date when FATF will meet to review efforts made by the blacklisted countries to fight money laundering. In parallel, Finance Minster George Corm disclosed that the draft law under preparation would allow the lifting of bank secrecy in specific cases and that authorities are establishing a special unit in charge of preventing and detecting money-laundering activities. ― ( Lebanon Invest )