Deposits in Lebanese banks are set to grow by “no less” than 8 percent, Head of the Lebanese Banks Association  Joseph Torbey said over the weekend, reiterating the sector’s commitment to implementing international sanctions on Syria .
“Depositors should not worry about their funds in Lebanon,” Torbey told Future TV station Saturday, adding that “the Lebanese are implementing not only what is being asked from Lebanon [but all international regulations].”
Torbey’s comments follow a warning issued by a U.S. Treasury department official urging Lebanese banks to remain vigilant in conducting financial transactions with Syria and foil attempts by the Assad regime to stash funds in Lebanon’s banks. “There is nothing new in the subject,” Torbey said, playing down the magnitude of comments by Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen as part of a wide-ranging statement that touched on various issues including the sanctions on Syria.
“The Lebanese market is connected through various common interests with Syrian markets. What is required from the Lebanese banks is to remain watchful and keep implementing the sanctions on Syria,” Torbey added.
When asked whether Cohen’s visit to Lebanon last March had an impact on the work of the Lebanese banking sector, Torbey reiterated that the Treasury official “did not issue warnings” to Lebanon but discussed the implementation of international sanctions on Syria.
Torbey said Lebanon’s banking sector has developed over the years to become an international one with regional and global extensions. Despite the confidence he expressed in the sector’s stability, Torbey warned that regional turmoil, particularly in countries where Lebanese banks operate, as well as the sluggish performance of the international economy, pose risks to the sector.
He also said that the persistence of local political bickering and tense political speech ahead of the 2013 parliamentary elections challenges the sector’s strength.