Lebanon’s Jammal Trust Bank defiant after US sanctions shock 

People walk past a branch of Jammal Trust Bank in Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, Aug. 30, 2019. (AP)
Updated 31 August 2019

Lebanon’s Jammal Trust Bank defiant after US sanctions shock 

  • The bank was placed on a list issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)
  • Bank seeks to reassure customers that its funds are operating normally

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Jammal Trust Bank (JTB) sought to reassure customers on Friday after the US Treasury Department placed the lender and its subsidiaries on a sanctions list.

A JTB official said that “the bank and its funds are operating normally and there is no fear for the fate of their money.”

The bank was placed on a list issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

The US Treasury Department accused JTB of providing financial and banking services to Hezbollah-owned institutions, including Al-Quard Al-Hassan, the Martyrs’ Foundation (Shahid), and Hezbollah’s Executive Council.

The bank stressed its strict commitment to the rules and regulations of Lebanon’s Central Bank, Banque du Liban, as well as international rules on money laundering and terrorist financing.

The governor of the Banque du Liban, Riad Salameh, said that JTB has a presence in the Lebanese Central Bank and that all legitimate deposits are guaranteed at the time of their maturity.

Prof. Jassem Ajaka, an economic and strategic expert, said that JTB is one of Lebanon’s microfinance institutions in terms of size and spread. Ajaka added that the recent US decision may be related to the detection of “suspicious operations” in 2005 and 2006 linked to JTB accounts.

The Association of Banks in Lebanon (ABL) regretted the decision to place JTB on the sanctions list, stressing that “this measure will not affect the banking sector in any way.”

ABL reassured depositors that their funds are safe with JTB, highlighting that “the Banque du Liban is capable of taking all necessary measures to address the situation.”

The banking sector is capable of absorbing the repercussions of the decision against JTB and securing the funds of depositors and rights holders.

Ali Hassan Khalil, Lebanese finance minister

Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said that the banking sector is capable of absorbing the repercussions of the decision against JTB and securing the funds of depositors and rights holders.

Economist Violette Balaa said that the US decision is designed to cut off funding for Hezbollah. She said: “It is true that JTB is a small bank in Lebanon, but it was suspected of dealing with sanctioned institutions.”

Balaa said that this decision will not disturb the banking situation in Lebanon, highlighting that the sector had previously faced a similar crisis affecting Al-Madina Bank, which continued to operate at the time.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that JTB has a longstanding relationship with a major Hezbollah financial entity.

He said that JTB’s misconduct undermines the integrity of the Lebanese financial system.

Marshall Billingslea, the assistant secretary for terrorist financing in the US Department of the Treasury, said: “JTB is a primary Hezbollah banker in Lebanon, with a long and continuing history of providing an array of financial services to the terror group. JTB has tried to conceal its relationships with numerous front companies for the US-designated Martyrs Foundation.

“The malfeasance within JTB runs to the core. Hezbollah’s Member of Parliament, Amin Sherri, who engages in criminal behavior on behalf of Hezbollah, openly coordinates Hezbollah’s financial activities at the bank with its management.”

Billingslea called on the Banque du Liban to “take the appropriate steps to freeze, close, and liquidate JTB while resolving its legitimate outstanding debts to innocent account holders.”


Global renewable power capacity to rise by 50% in five years

Updated 58 min 5 sec ago

Global renewable power capacity to rise by 50% in five years

  • Solar PV will account for nearly 60 percent of this growth and onshore wind 25 percent
  • Falling technology costs and more effective government policies have helped to drive the higher forecasts for renewable capacity deployment

LONDON: Global renewable energy capacity is set to rise by 50 percent in five years’ time, driven by solar photovoltaic (PV) installations on homes, buildings and industry, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Total renewable-based power capacity will rise by 1.2 terawatts (TW) by 2024 from 2.5 TW last year, equivalent to the total installed current power capacity of the United States.
Solar PV will account for nearly 60 percent of this growth and onshore wind 25 percent, the IEA’s annual report on global renewables showed.
The share of renewables in power generation is expected to rise to 30 percent in 2024 from 26 percent today.
Falling technology costs and more effective government policies have helped to drive the higher forecasts for renewable capacity deployment since last year’s report, the IEA said.
“Renewables are already the world’s second largest source of electricity, but their deployment still needs to accelerate if we are to achieve long-term climate, air quality and energy access goals,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director.
“As costs continue to fall, we have a growing incentive to ramp up the deployment of solar PV,” he added.
The cost of generating electricity from distributed solar PV (PV systems on homes, commercial buildings and industry) is already below retail electricity prices in most countries.
Solar PV generation costs are expected to decline a further 15 percent to 35 percent by 2024, making the technology more attractive for adoption, the IEA said.
However, policy and tariff reforms are needed to ensure solar PV growth is sustainable and avoid disruption to electricity markets and higher energy costs, the report said.