The defunct Lebanese Canadian Bank denied Tuesday U.S. claims that it had any connection to Hezbollah, which Washington labels a terrorist organization. The bank’s management said the $150 million in cash seized by the U.S. Treasury was actually a technical deposit for a banking merger.
“The funds came from a U.S.-based account of Beirut-based Banque Libano Francaise SAL, which is holding money in escrow from the $580-million sale of the defunct Lebanese Canadian Bank to Societe Generale de Banque au Liban,” U.S. prosecutors said in a statement Monday.
“In the framework of a campaign against the banking sector in general, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara issued a statement about the seizure of $150 million as part of civil suit filed in February 2011 on the issue of money laundering,” the management of the Lebanese Canadian Bank said in the statement.
The statement vehemently denied the allegations of the U.S authorities the bank was involved in money laundering or had any connection with Hezbollah.
“This news is utterly false and completely unfounded because the money seized has neither direct or indirect relations with Hezbollah nor any other organization,” the statement said.
It added that international auditing firms could not find any wrongdoing that would necessitate a lawsuit against the bank.
The bank’s management added that it had filed a lawsuit with the prosecuting office in Beirut so that a proper investigation is conducted as soon as possible.
The Lebanese Canadian Bank was accused by federal prosecutors in December of helping launder at least $329 million for Hezbollah, in a scheme that involved buying and selling used cars. Cash from the car sales as well as proceeds of narcotics trafficking were funneled to Lebanon through the scheme, the U.S. alleged.