The issue of US sanctions has now become a priority for Hezbollah amid information that Lebanese banks will take escalatory measures that include the closure of bank accounts of Hezbollah lawmakers, ministers, and their families.
A verbal attack launched by the party on Central Bank chief Riad Salameh through its parliamentary bloc on Thursday was clear in that regard. The bloc considered his remarks suspicious after Salameh said: “We don’t want a few Lebanese to spoil the image of the country or the financial markets in Lebanon.”
Salameh said 100 Hezbollah-related accounts have been frozen since the US passed last year a law called the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act, or HIFPA, which threatens to sanction anyone who finances Hezbollah, Business News reported.
Salameh said: “The accounts have been frozen. Applying the US law is conclusive, and aims to preserve Lebanon’s financial and banking credibility around the world.”
Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that Lebanese banks will work on closing the accounts in US dollars of Hezbollah MPs, cabinet ministers, their children and their wives. But their accounts in Lebanese Lira will not be frozen, they said.
BLOM Bank has already closed the accounts of lawmakers, ministers and all personalities linked to Hezbollah, a member of the party’s bloc said.
He described the move as “arbitrary.”
The source said that Salameh and the party have struck a deal under which they would abide by the conditions put by the Central Bank’s Special Investigation Commission to stop banks from taking unilateral decisions.
Banks are required to review a list that has been put together by the Central Bank before they randomly shut down personal and corporate bank accounts.
The bank that has decided to close accounts should review its measures and abide by the instructions of the Central Bank, which should monitor the implementation of its orders and hold accountable the sides that violate them.
Informed sources have said that the measures taken by the banks will continue to put pressure on some institutions belonging to Hezbollah such as Rassoul Al-Aazam Hospital. A decision on its bank accounts will be issued soon, they said.
Hezbollah is procrastinating on reacting to the Central Bank’s measures out of fear on Lebanon’s monetary stability, said the sources.