Washington imposes sanctions on 3 Lebanese figures on suspicion of corruption and “undermining the rule of law”

Today, Thursday, the US Treasury imposed sanctions on a Lebanese parliamentarian close to Hezbollah, and two businessmen, for what it said was widespread corruption that “undermined the rule of law in Lebanon.”

The sanctions targeted MP Jamil Al-Sayed, businessman Jihad Al-Arab, who is close to former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, as well as businessman Danny Khoury, who is close to Gibran Bassil, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement and former foreign minister.

The US Treasury accused each of the three of benefiting from “the rampant corruption and nepotism in Lebanon to amass personal wealth at the expense of the Lebanese people and state institutions.”

Under the sanctions, all property and interests of the three individuals in the United States are frozen, according to the Treasury statement.

The statement said that MP Al-Sayed “seeked to circumvent national banking policies and laws, and a high-ranking government official helped him transfer more than $120 million in investments abroad.”

Al-Sayed is the former director of the General Directorate of Public Security. He was imprisoned for 4 years on suspicion of involvement in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005, and was later released without any charges being brought against him.

“During the 2019 demonstrations, when protesters gathered in front of his house to demand his resignation, describing him as corrupt, Mr. Al-Sayed called on the authorities to shoot and kill the demonstrators,” the US Treasury statement said.

Alleged bids and bribes

As for Jihad Al-Arab, who is close to Saad Hariri, “thanks to his close political relations”, he won several tenders in exchange for “bribes he paid to government officials,” according to the US accusations.

He is one of the most prominent contractors in Lebanon, and his company “Al-Jihad for Lebanese Contracting” has undertaken over the past years huge projects in the country, a large part of which is under contracts with the state.

After the start of the popular protest movement, he was subjected to a campaign accusing him of corruption, and last June announced the closure of all his business in the country, speaking of “attack, incitement and slander” against him and his family members.

As for the businessman, Khoury, the US Treasury accused him of earning millions of dollars through contracts that he largely did not comply with.

Khoury is close to MP Bassil and the son-in-law of Lebanese President Michel Aoun. Washington had previously imposed sanctions on Bassil on suspicion of corruption as well.

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