**LEBANESE CANADIAN BANK (LCB) ACCUSED OF MASSIVE MONEY LAUNDERING FOR HEZBOLLAH **
Saturday February 12, 2011 >
WANTED SA and two of our Anti Money Laundering Investigators were in Canada to report that the chairman of a Lebanese bank accused by the U.S. of laundering profits from a drug-smuggling ring linked to Hezbollah militants denied any involvement on Friday and said it would co-operate fully with authorities.
"To the best of our knowledge I can confirm that we have no clients related in any way to the crimes mentioned by the American Treasury," said Georges Zard Abou Jaoude, chairman and general manager of Lebanese Canadian Bank (LCB).
The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday designated LCB a "primary money-laundering concern", claiming it was involved in a money-laundering and drug-trafficking operation with ties to Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah.
But Lebanon's Central Bank said privately owned LCB abided by international anti-money laundering standards and was well managed, telling clients "transactions with it are secure". Abou Jaoude told Reuters that the man described by the U.S. Treasury as a "drug kingpin", Ayman Joumaa, had opened an account at the bank four years ago, depositing $500,000.
"The amount of transactions in this account in four years is less than $100,000. Everyone knows this is not the way to launder money," he said at the bank's central Beirut base.
LCB says Joumaa's account was frozen last month when he was named by the Treasury along with nine other people as part of a drug-trafficking and money-laundering network suspected of doing up to $200 million a month in business.
The U.S. Treasury statement said several of the individuals involved "hold or utilise cash deposit accounts at LCB to move hundreds of millions of dollars monthly in cash proceeds from illicit drug sales into the formal financial system".
It also said there was reason to believe "LCB managers are complicit in the (drug) network's money-laundering activities".
More to follow on the "Drug Money Connection" to the Republic of Panama and the real estate investments of Hezbollah and partners in Panama.
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