EU sanctions tighten knot around Syrian Lebanese Commercial Bank
The Syrian Lebanese Commercial Bank (SLCB), the Beirut-based subsidiary of Syria’s state-owned Commercial Bank of Syria, was hit by new sanctions from the European Union.
In its decision published on January 24, the EU’s council added 22 individuals and eight entities to the list of those subject to an asset freeze and a ban from entering the EU .
Last August SLCB was targeted by similar US sanctions. At that time, the US had claimed that the bank was providing financial services to Iran and North Korea.
SLCB’s Chairman Doureid Ahmed Dergham had rebuffed the US accusations, emphasizing that “SLCB is a Lebanese institution fully controlled by the Central Bank and subject to the supervision of the regulatory authorities.”
Dergham has recently left his position as General Manager of SLCB and has not yet been replaced.
Member of the Compliance Committee at the Association of Banks in Lebanon, Antoine Dagher, said that the Alfa group banks are keen for implementing the sanctions down to their very last detail. He said that since several months ago, most banks have taken tough measures in line with the sanctions on Syria.
Dagher said that the banks are awaiting the directives of the Central Bank pertaining to doing business with SLCB in light of the recent EU sanctions. “The Central Bank is firm in ordering financial institutions to implement the sanctions,” he said.
According to Dagher, since the US sanctions against it last August, most banks have been dealing with SLCB through the Central Bank’s cheques division but have not been performing overseas transactions with it.
The sanctions freeze any assets held by these individuals and firms in the US and EU countries and prohibits firms and individuals in these countries from doing business with them.
In May 2004, the US Treasury identified the Commercial Bank of Syria as a financial institution of primary money laundering concern.
Date Posted: Jan 30, 2012