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EU’s Sanction of Lebanese Bank Upheld by Court

(CN) - A Lebanese bank with ties to Syria and Bashar al-Assad's totalitarian regime will face sanctions for financing the brutal civil war that has killed more than 120,000, the EU General Court ruled Tuesday.

It has been over a year since the European Council blacklisted the Syrian Lebanese Commercial Bank as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Commercial Bank of Syria, an entity of the Syrian government. In fighting its inclusion on the list, the bank said lawmakers had failed to link SLCB to the Syrian bank and did not adequately lay out how SLCB had financed the Assad regime.

The General Court of the European Union acknowledged Tuesday that lawmakers could have been more precise as to how SLCB finances Assad, but said its capital ties to Syria's central bank alone warrant sanctions.

Over 84 percent of SLCB's capital is held by the Syrian bank, which in turn gives financial support to the Assad government, according to the ruling, which is not available in English.

Furthermore, the council gave SLCB adequate notice of its inclusion on the blacklist and invited the bank to defend its actions, the Luxembourg-based court said. The bank had argued that lawmakers notified it of the sanctions only after already freezing its assets, but the court said advance notice would have allowed the bank to move its money out of the EU and defeated the purpose.

In 2012, the U.S. government banned the Syrian International Islamic Bank from doing business here on grounds that it acted as a front for the Commercial Bank of Syria and SLCB. The Treasury Department said the Syrian International Islamic Bank moved nearly $150 million for the other two banks after they were sanctioned by executive order in 2011.

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