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.”


Boeing finds a new issue with 737 MAX aircraft

Updated 36 min 24 sec ago

Boeing finds a new issue with 737 MAX aircraft

  • The fuel tank debris was discovered during maintenance on parked planes
  • Boeing built about 400 undelivered MAX jets before it temporarily halted production last month

Boeing said Tuesday that it found debris contaminating the fuel tanks of some 737 MAX jets that it built in the past year but was unable to deliver to airline customers.
A Boeing official said the debris was discovered in “several” planes but did not give a precise number. Boeing built about 400 undelivered MAX jets before it temporarily halted production last month.
The fuel tank debris was discovered during maintenance on parked planes, and Boeing said it immediately made corrections in its production system to prevent a recurrence. Those steps include more inspections before fuel tanks are sealed.
A Boeing spokesman said that the issue would not change the company’s belief that the Federal Aviation Administration will certify the plane to fly again this summer.
An FAA spokesman said the agency knows that Boeing is conducting a voluntary inspection of undelivered MAX planes.
The FAA “increased its surveillance based on initial inspection reports and will take further action based on the findings,” said spokesman Lynn Lunsford.
Metal shavings, tools and other objects left in planes during assembly can raise the risk of electrical short-circuiting and fires.
Mark Jenks, Boeing’s general manager of the 737 program, said in a memo to employees who work on the 737, “During these challenging times, our customers and the flying public are counting on us to do our best work each and every day.”
Jenks called the debris “absolutely unacceptable. One escape is one too many.”
The debris issue was first reported by aviation news site Leehamnews.com.
MAX jets were grounded around the world last March after two crashes killed 346 people. Boeing is conducting test flights to assess updates to a flight-control system that activated before the crashes on faulty signals from sensors outside the plane, pushing the noses of the aircraft down and triggering spirals that pilots were unable to stop.
While investigators examining the MAX accidents have not pointed to production problems at the assembly plant near Seattle, Boeing has faced concerns about debris left in other finished planes including the 787 Dreamliner, which is built in South Carolina.