Lebanon Businessnews News

Banking secrecy lifted from 18 suspects
335 suspected money laundering and terrorism financing cases handled in 2011 by the financial intelligence unit
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Lebanon’s financial intelligence unit, the Special Investigation Commission (SIC), issued its annual report citing its anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) activities throughout the year 2011.

The SIC, an independent judicial entity established by the Central Bank, handled 335 suspected cases in 2011, of which 235 cases were local. The remaining cases were referred by foreign governments and organizations.

The SIC referred 157 suspected cases to relevant judicial authorities, while 50 cases were kept pending. The remaining 128 cases were ruled out as they did not fall within the context of the anti-money laundering law. Judicial authorities thus lifted the banking secrecy on 18 cases, of which five cases were from abroad.

Of the total number of cases handled by the SIC, there were 39 customs cross-border cash cases and 50 banking control commission administrative assistance cases. Of the remaining 246 cases (tackled directly by the SIC), there were 31 cases of forgery, 21 cases of terrorism or terrorism financing (17 of them filed by foreign sources), 15 cases of private funds’ embezzlement (four of which from abroad), seven cases of public funds’ embezzlement (four from abroad), 11 cases of narcotics trading (of which nine were filed from abroad), and one foreign case of organized crime.

The SIC investigated a total of 189 out of 245 reported cases in 2010. It had investigated 77 suspected cases in 2009 (out of 202), 67 cases in 2008 (out of 226), 54 cases in 2007 (out of 234), and 70 cases in 2006 (out of 185 reported cases).

A total of 191 institutions (including 24 banks, 18 financial institutions, 19 insurance companies, eight money remitters, and 117 money dealers) were targeted by on-site compliance examinations as per the AML/CFT regulations.

According to the report, amendments to the AML/CFT law and a draft law on the cross-border transportation of funds were suggested and forwarded to Cabinet. The SIC issued several circulars including amendments to the minimum know-your-customer (KYC) requirements. The Central Bank also amended Basic Circular 83 on AML/CFT regulations and introduced additional control measures for reporting entities, in line with the suggestions made by the SIC.

Reported by Hanadi Chami
Date Posted: Apr 10, 2012
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