The administration of US President Donald Trump has imposed sanctions on a Lebanon-based bank and its subsidiaries over accusations of providing financial services to the Lebanese Resistance Movement, Hezbollah.
The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned Jammal Trust Bank on Thursday, accusing the 50-year-old commercial bank of “brazenly enabling Hezbollah’s financial activities.”
The US Treasury also claimed that the Lebanese bank had funneled money to the families of perpetrators of terrorist bomb attacks, without further elaboration.
OFAC put Jammal Trust’s Lebanon-based subsidiaries, Trust Insurance SAL, Trust Insurance Services SAL and Trust Life Insurance Company SAL on its sanctions list.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States was determined to cut off financial support for the Lebanese resistance group, which Washington has designated as a terrorist organization.
Accusations ‘unequivocally’ denied
Jammal Trust Bank, with branches throughout Lebanon, said it “unequivocally denies all the allegations” that prompted what it described as “surprising” sanctions.
The bank said in a statement that it has “unwavering commitment to… international regulations on countering money laundering and terrorism financing,” and that it would work with Lebanon’s central bank to protect depositors.
The Association of Banks in Lebanon also voiced “regret” over the US move and insisted that all funds deposited with Jammal Trust Bank were safe.
Hezbollah was formed following the Israeli regime’s invasion of Lebanon and the ensuing occupation of its southern parts in the 1980s. It currently constitutes Lebanon’s de facto military power.
Since then, the movement has helped the Lebanese national army retake the occupied regions from Tel Aviv and thwart two Israeli acts of aggression in 2000 and 2006.
Hezbollah has also been playing a significant role in the Syrian army’s fight against Takfiri terror groups, including Daesh and Nusra Front, thus preventing the spillover of the war into Lebanon.
In May 2018, the US and its regional partners – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE – imposed sanctions on Hezbollah leadership, targeting its Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem.
Nasrallah said at the time that the sanctions against the leadership of the movement would have no effect and will not harm its officials at all.
Some 50 Hezbollah individuals and entities have been blacklisted by the Treasury since 2017.