Friday, June 24, 2011

Hariri minions & Likudnik reporter: 'Destroy Assad through, the STL, the banks & Riad Salemeh!'

The WSJ's Bret Stephen is best known for views that are largely in line with those held by Israel’s Likud Party, which opposes Palestinian statehood. In an interview with the conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, Stephens described former Israeli prime minister and Likud leader Ariel Sharon  as “the most significant prime minister Israel has had since the founder, David Ben-Gurion.”... Stephen talked to some of Saad Hariri's entourage, when Hariri visited Washington in May.
(WSJ)- "The Lebanese are a people who famously can’t agree about anything. So how is it that Beirut’s political establishment, soon to be under the effective control of Hezbollah (and under the influence of Syria and Iran), seems unanimous in its resolve to reappoint Riad Salameh to a fourth term as governor of the central bank?
On the surface, Mr. Salameh has earned his reappointment by providing Lebanon with the measure of economic stability that its politics notoriously lack...But a different view of the Lebanese banking system was recently afforded by the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Treasury Department, which in February designated the Beirut-based Lebanese Canadian Bank (LCB) as a primary money-laundering concern.The bank, which in 2010 had assets of some $6 billion, is alleged by the DEA to have facilitated the money laundering of a global drug-trafficking network linked to Lebanese drug kingpin Ayman Joumaa, who, the agency says, was moving as much as $200 million a month through the bank. The DEA also claims that LCB had ties with one Abdallah Safieddine, the Tehran-based envoy of Hezbollah, who "was involved in Iranian officials’ access to LCB and key LCB managers, who provide them banking services."...
In the meantime, it’s worth recalling the last great Lebanese banking scandal. In July 2003 the al-Madina bank was taken over by Mr. Salameh after it came to light that the bank had a $300 million cash deficit. It soon became clear that al-Madina had sidelines laundering money for Iraqi officials and their partners as part of the U.N.’s oil-for-food scam. The FBI also discovered al-Madina was the bank of choice for a Hezbollah arms dealer who once made a deposit of $160 million to the bank—in cash.But the most interesting revelation about al-Madina concerned its ties to the Assad regime in Syria, which at the time had its army in Lebanon....
In 2006, following the departure of the Syrian army, the al-Madina files were transferred from the central bank to the Ministry of Justice (controlled by the US allies in March14). Two bank officials were arrested and jailed on charges of misappropriating funds; the rest of the case, including the money-laundering side, was left to languish in memory...
Fortunately, the Societe Generale takeover isn’t a done deal. Sources tell me that advisers on the acquisition have raised thorny questions about a number of suspicious accounts held by the LCB bank. Questions are even being raised in the Lebanese press about the desirability of having as a central banker a man "who can be accepted by Damascus, Washington, Paris, Riyadh and Tehran."
Those questions should be pressed harder. Lebanon is girding for the unsealing of indictments by a U.N. tribunal in the case of Hariri’s murder, which is widely expected to implicate Hezbollah and maybe also the Assad regime. The incoming Lebanese government of Prime Minster Najib Miqati is planning a unified stand against the tribunal. The West has staked a great deal on seeing that tribunal succeed. Applying maximum scrutiny to Lebanon’s banks is one way of reminding the country’s politicians that there may yet be a price to be paid for making common cause with Hezbollah."

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