Lebanese dollars are smuggled to Iran and other countries in the region

By The Free Iranian Staff


An informed source in the Lebanese banking field has announced that there is an organized plan to smuggle billions of dollars from Lebanese markets, to smuggle into neighboring countries, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

Lebanese sources say that two months ago, organized measures were launched to defame Lebanese banks and raise financial concerns aimed at damaging the Lebanese economy and falling monetary value.

The move escalated after Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah reacting to the US sanctions on Lebanon’s Trust Bank, businessmen close to him began to pull their assets out of Lebanese banks and headed for Syria; a matter that compounded by the dollar crisis in Lebanon.

These measures, which aim to create apprehension in the market in an coordinated way, are not limited here and employ all available means to create fear and concern among the public. This led citizens to withdraw $2.5 billion from banks to hide in their homes in the early days of October alone.

As the mass protests in Lebanon began and the two-week banks closed for two weeks, the rumor mill heated up again, and traders began trading based on the rumors of a drop in the Lebanese liras to the US dollar at prices between 1700 and 1800 liras.

According to economist Jasim Ajaqa, the chaos that swept across Lebanon was exploited by some traders and moved significant amounts of cash out of the country to Turkey to profit from illegal businesses.

“In the past two days, a money laundering detector, who was seeking $ 1.3 million in cash every 48 hours, was arrested,” Ajaqa said. “This is a very dangerous thing because there may be dozens of similar cases that do this in order to earn illegal profits.” Ajaqa adds: “In recent days, currency exchangers have come to Lebanon who have different Arab currencies and converted them to dollars in Beirut markets to ship to Turkey.”

According to information obtained from the Lebanese money market, the dollar is not only destined for Turkey, but is being sent to Iran, Syria, Iraq, as well as spread throughout Lebanon as well; in general moved to countries where there is a shortage of US dollars due to US sanctions.

Lebanon’s Attorney General Ghassan Awidat ordered the banning mass transport of cash via luggage through the Beirut International Airport and other border crossings in order to control the dollar. “The ban will remain in place until the Bank of Lebanon establishes a new mechanism for the transfer process,” he said in a statement.

According to Lebanon’s Banking and Financial Law 42, which was adopted on November 24, 2015, “the transferor, receiver and source of such property must be declared when transferring more than $15,000 or equivalent in other currencies.”

Due to the lack of control over the border crossings, and in particular the illegal crossings on the Syrian borders, it is not possible to precisely control the transfer of property.

Concerns about conspiracies against the banking sector in Lebanon are increasing day by day, with citizens flocking to all branches of the country’s banks to withdraw their deposits, to move out of Lebanon.

Despite all this, Ajaqa says there are no worries about the equity value of the Lebanese Pound and the US dollar and people will not rush to banks to withdraw their deposits because most of them have long-term deposits at high interest rates. However as a result of all that is occurring, they have prepared themselves.

The Central Bank of Lebanon also does not intend to impose any restrictions on the transfer of property from legal channels, as this could fuel distrust of the Lebanese banking system and could bring the country into a new phase of asset withdrawal.

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