U.S. authorities are in the process of preparing a new list of persons and institutions who will be included in the financial sanctions imposed on Hezbollah, al-Akhbar daily , which is closely associated with Hezbollah reported on Wednesday.
Sources close to the Central Bank said that the regulations will not trigger additional complications to the “political scene”, especially between Hezbollah and Governor Riad Salameh, now that all Lebanese banks have committed to the application of the mechanism that does not allow the expansion of punitive measures to include people and institutions not covered by the sanctions, added the daily.
U.S. President Barack Obama signed the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act on December 18.
The U.S. regulations say Washington will target those “knowingly facilitating a significant transaction or transactions for” Hezbollah or any individual, business or institution linked to the group.
Earlier, two banks have reportedly suspended Hezbollah-linked accounts in what they said is in conformity with the U.S. sanction. The move drew the ire of Hezbollah circles which they said it “crossed the line.”
Later, Salameh had assured that Lebanese banks will abide by the restrictions but he stressed that they must “offer justifications” and consult with the Central Bank before suspending accounts suspected of violating the anti-Hezbollah U.S. sanctions law.
In June, an agreement was reached between Salameh and Hezbollah, under which it stressed the necessity to comply with the conditions laid down by the Special Investigation Commission (SIC) to prevent the banks from taking individual decisions in this regard.
Hezbollah parliamentarians warned Salameh last June over the suspension of approximately 100 party-linked bank accounts.
“The policy of blackmail and various type of pressures that US administrations practices against countries and forces that are opposed to their policies will never manage to arm-twist Hezbollah or change its stances against the US tyranny and injustice,” the Hezbollah parliamentary bloc declared in a statement. It continued: “The current US administration’s targeting of the resistance and its supporters through the Lebanese banking sector is doomed to fail and will not succeed in achieving its objectives.”
A bomb exploded outside the headquarters of Lebanese Blom Bank in central Beirut last June, causing damage but no fatalities.
Blom Bank is one of the banks that has closed accounts belonging to people suspected of links to Hezbollah.
Fingers were pointed at Hezbollah for the bomb blast.
Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt suggested on June 13, a day after the blast that there is a link between the explosion and a growing row between Hezbollah and the central bank governor over the implementation of U.S. financial sanctions against the party.
“The objective of the bombing in Beirut is to deal a blow to the economy and the banking system and I had called for a calm dialogue about the U.S. sanctions,” Jumblatt told An Nahar newspaper shortly after the explosion.