BEIRUT: A Beirut-based subsidiary of Syria’s state-owned Commercial Bank of Syria, added to a list of U.S. sanctions targets last week, said Wednesday it had done nothing illegal and was confident its clients would ignore Washington’s measure.
The U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions against Syrian Lebanese Commercial Bank and its main shareholder, Commercial Bank of Syria, on Aug. 10, freezing their U.S. assets and barring them from doing business in the United States.
The move was part of escalating U.S. pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad over his repression of five months of street protests calling for his overthrow.
The U.S. Treasury said that the Commercial Bank of Syria had been targeted for providing financial services to Syria’s Scientific and Studies and Research Center and North Korea’s Tanchon Commercial Bank, which had itself been listed in 2005 for the support of weapons of mass destruction proliferation.
Rejecting what he called unfounded political allegations, SLCB chairman Doureid Ahmad Dergham said the bank’s activities were overseen by Lebanese regulators.
“SLCB is a Lebanese institution fully governed and controlled by the Central Bank of Lebanon and subject to supervision of the regulatory authorities,” the bank’s chairman said in a statement.
The bank had “never had any operation with neither a North Korean nor Iranian entity” and denied any accusation of “any illegal activity with any suspected country.”
The chairman added that SLCB’s correspondent banks and clients knew there was no evidence the bank had done anything wrong and expressed that he was confident they would ignore “those unfair sanctions.”