Lebanon removes banking secrecy rules to fight corruption

Lebanon removes banking secrecy rules to fight corruption
A man holds Lebanese pounds next to U.S. dollar banknotes at a currency exchange shop in Beirut, Lebanon April 24, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 28 May 2020

Lebanon removes banking secrecy rules to fight corruption

Lebanon removes banking secrecy rules to fight corruption
  • The move opens the way for investigations into bank accounts of current and former officials such as Cabinet ministers

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s parliament approved on Thursday a law to remove decades-old banking secrecy rules in order to better fight rampant corruption that has pushed the country to the edge of economic collapse.
The move opens the way for investigations into bank accounts of current and former officials such as Cabinet ministers, legislators and civil servants, state-run National News Agency reported.
The restoration of stolen public money in the corruption-plagued nation has been a key demand of protesters who have been demonstrating since mid-October against Lebanon’s ruling elite, which they blame for widespread corruption and mismanagement.
The approval of the law came two months after the Cabinet approved a draft resolution to abolish the country’s banking secrecy laws, which have turned tiny Lebanon into the region’s Switzerland, attracting clients from around the Arab world who prized the anonymity its banks offered.
The new law gives powers to National Anti-corruption Commission and a Special Investigative Committee at the central bank to investigate bank account of officials, the report said.
For Thursday’s session, Lebanese lawmakers convened inside a Beirut theater so that they could observe social distancing measures imposed during the pandemic. Dozens of anti-government demonstrators briefly clashed with riot police outside as legislators met.
As lawmakers in face masks arrived at the theater, known as the UNESCO palace, paramedics sprayed them with disinfectant before they entered, one at a time.
Lebanon has been facing its worst economic crisis in decades, with unemployment figures soaring and the local currency losing more than half of its value against the dollar.
After the banking secrecy measure was passed, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri suspended the session until later in the afternoon when the legislators were to discuss a draft general amnesty law.
The amnesty issue has deeply divided parliamentary blocs, with Christian groups calling for pardoning Lebanese who fled to Israel after it ended its occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000, while former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and others want the release of hundreds of Islamists held as terror suspects.
Lebanon and Israel are at a state of war and some Lebanese who fled to Israel now hold Israeli citizenship. Scores of protesters demonstrated in Beirut and southern Lebanon on Thursday against pardoning those living in Israel.


Saudi-Yemeni collaboration aims to support housing, education and employment sectors

Princess Lamia bint Majed and ambassador Mohammed bin Saeed Al-Jaber. (Supplied)
Princess Lamia bint Majed and ambassador Mohammed bin Saeed Al-Jaber. (Supplied)
Updated 33 min 49 sec ago

Saudi-Yemeni collaboration aims to support housing, education and employment sectors

Princess Lamia bint Majed and ambassador Mohammed bin Saeed Al-Jaber. (Supplied)
  • Initiative will offer more than 200 unemployed youth vocational training opportunities, while 1,600 new job opportunities will be created

RIYADH: The Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen (SDRPY) has signed a number of agreements with Alwaleed Philanthropies, the charitable organization set up by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al-Saud, to address the housing and education needs of 4,860 Yemeni people.

The first memorandum of cooperation (MoC) is with UN-Habitat, represented by the program’s executive director Maimunah M. Sharif, to launch the Adequate Housing Project.

Coordinated with the Yemeni government, the housing project is restoring 600 housing units for low-income households in Aden and surrounding areas. The project is expected to directly benefit up to 4,200 people, as well as improving the general social and economic conditions of the surrounding neighbourhoods.

Moreover, the initiative will offer more than 200 unemployed youth vocational training opportunities, while 1,600 new job opportunities will be created during the project.

The second MoC is with Education for Employment (EFE) and will focus on a project entitled Building the Future for Yemeni Youth.

SDRPY’s Supervisor, Ambassador Mohammed bin Saeed Al-Jaber, said: “The initiatives are part of our efforts to assist the government in Yemen by restoring housing, offering placement programs, job training, and self-employment opportunities to youth, under the directives of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”

Secretary General of Alwaleed Philanthropies Princess Lamia bint Majed Al Saud, said: “Adequate housing and proper job placements are vital in economic, social, and civic development. If addressed properly, a myriad of socio-economic benefits can be reaped and business opportunities will grow.”

She added: “Today’s agreements with the SDRPY, UN-Habitat and Education for Employment demonstrate our continuous efforts towards providing long-term solutions and achieving sustainable impact in a way that supports the most vulnerable segments of society. We are delighted to have partnered with institutions that share both our core values and ethos for creating real change within societies.”

Founded in 1980, Alwaleed Philanthropies has spent more than $4 billion in support of more than 1000 social initiatives in nearly 190 countries.