The Lebanese cabinet temporarily shelved on Wednesday, December 13, a draft bill that was designed to remove the country from the blacklist of 15 countries not cooperating sufficiently in the international battle to curb money laundering, reported the Daily Star.
The cabinet decided to delay its debate on the issue after several of the ministers had requested more time to study the issue. Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said later that a special ministerial committee had been created to further examine the legislation, and recommend possible changes.
According to the original draft law, bank suspected of money laundering would be subject to heavy fines, and their general managers could find themselves in prison.
The news of the delay will not be welcomed by the Lebanese Central Bank, the Banking Control Commission and the Association of Banks in Lebanon (ABL), all of which were involved in drafting the original draft bill.
Speaking to the Daily Star, the ABL’s secretary-general, Makram Sader, said the draft bill had met the remaining 15 of the 25 anti-money laundering steps demanded by the Financial Action Task Force, which was set up by the organization comprising the world’s seven largest industrialized economies, especially to deal with the problem of money laundering. Sader noted that the Lebanese parliament will have to get its bill passed before June 2001, which is when the G7 task force will meet to decide whether Lebanon and the other blacklisted countries have taken sufficient steps to combat money laundering.
In January a team from the International Monetary Fund will visit Beirut to determine if the government and the Central Bank are doing to combat money laundering. – (Albawaba-MEBG)