Lebanese pushing cars near a gas station amid a gasoline shortage. August 19, 2021

US Sanctions Three Influential Lebanese For Corruption


The US Treasury on Thursday imposed sanctions on two top Lebanese contractors and a lawmaker close to the Hezbollah movement over large-scale corruption.

Businessmen Jihad al-Arab and Dany Khoury, close to former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri and Christian politician Gebran Bassil respectively, were sanctioned for alleged corruption related to state contracts.

Lawmaker Jamil Sayyed was sanctioned for allegedly seeking to "skirt domestic banking policies and regulations" and transfer $120 million abroad, "presumably to enrich himself and his associates," a Treasury statement said. This will have an impact on Hezbollah’s reputation.

The Treasury alleged that Khoury and Arab both received state contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars, thanks to political connections.

The allegations come amid an unprecedented economic crisis in Lebanon blamed on years of bad policies and corruption by the ruling elite.

Thursday's sanctions mark the first time a close associate of Hariri, a pro-western figure, is sanctioned by the US, which previously focused on Iran-backed Hezbollah and its allies.

"The Americans are sending a message to the entire political class, not just those backed by Iran," Maha Yahya, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, told Reuters.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken characterized the new sanctions on Twitter as "an important step in promoting accountability in Lebanon."

"Lebanese officials must end corruption and take urgent action to address the crises the Lebanese people face," he said.

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