Lebanon’s Central Bank investigation into possible accounts belonging to Hamas leaders in the country has prompted a wave of criticism against a policy that appears to correspond with US political strategy.
In August, US President George Bush ordered the freezing of assets belonging to five Hamas leaders and several charities accused of supporting the Islamic resistance movement, urging other countries to do the same. Jordan’s Central Bank followed suit earlier this month, but retracted the directive only a day after implementation.
Former Prime Minister Salim Hoss warned against the action, which he called “a clear violation of the banking secrecy law”. The probe was labeled a “big mistake or a fatal mistake” by As-Safir, which provoked discussions between Lebanese Prime Minister Emile Lahoud, Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and Syrian officials, reported AFP.
In contrast, Central Bank Governer Riad Salame issued a statement explaining that the order does not violate banking secrecy. He also said that the policy does not compel the freezing of accounts linked to Hamas which “defends its land and people”.
US intelligence sources estimate that the militant Palestinian group Hamas has an annual budget of $50 million, raising much of that money through its reputation as a charity. — (menareport.com)
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