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Treasury Says Lebanese Bank Launders Money

WASHINGTON (CN) - The Lebanese Canadian Bank has been designated as a Primary Money Laundering Concern by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network has proposed sanctions against the bank that would prohibit U.S financial institutions from opening or maintaining pass-through accounts with the bank.

"The Lebanese Canadian Bank for years has participated in a sophisticated money laundering scheme involving used cars purchased in the United States and consumer goods overseas. Thanks to DEA-led operations, as well as today's Treasury action, we are exposing and disrupting this money laundering network and its connections to global drug trafficking and Hizballah," said Drug Enforcement Agency Administrator Michele Leonhart in a statement released by the Treasury.

The Lebanese Canadian Bank is among Lebanon's ten largest banks with 35 domestic branches, an office in Montreal, Canada and more than $5 billion in assets.

On its Web site the bank says that it may have been "used unwittingly as intermediaries in a process to conceal the true source of funds that were originally derived from criminal activity" and that it has a "policy of cooperation with law enforcement and regulatory agencies."

The proposed sanctions would require all U.S. banks to review their account records to ensure that they maintain no accounts directly for, or on behalf of Lebanese Canadian Bank and that they apply special due diligence to ensure their institutions are not providing other services to the bank, it subsidiaries or affiliates.

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