Former Lebanese Ministers Accused of Supporting Iran-backed Hezbollah

Former Lebanese Ministers Accused of Supporting Iran-backed Hezbollah 

The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on two former Lebanese government ministers for corruption and supporting Iran-backed group Hezbollah.

Following the huge explosion at the Beirut port last month, the US has accused former Lebanese transport and finance ministers of providing material and financial help to the Iran-backed Hezbollah.

While announcing the blacklisting of ministers Yusuf Finyanus and Ali Hassan Khalil, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, “Corruption has run rampant in Lebanon, and Hizballah has exploited the political system to spread its malign influence. The United States stands with the people of Lebanon in their calls for reform and will continue to use its authorities to target those who oppress and exploit them.”

Khalil, who is a senior official in the Amal group headed by parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri, has been accused by the US of sending funds to Iran-backed Hezbollah institutions to evade US sanctions.

Finyanus, who is a member of the Christian Marada group allied with Hezbollah and the Assad regime in Syria, received “hundreds of thousands of dollars” from Hezbollah in return for political favours.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US “will use all available authorities to promote accountability for Lebanese leaders who have failed their people.”

“Hezbollah depends on Lebanon’s corrupt political system for survival. Anyone helping to advance Hezbollah’s political or economic interests is further eroding what remains of effective governance and facilitating financing for terrorism,” Pompeo added.

The imposed sanctions will freeze any US assets of the two blacklisted former ministers and bar US citizens from working with them in any manner. The Treasury warned of second sanctions if the blacklisted individuals engage in certain transactions.

The Treasury said that Finyanus was among the officials Iran-backed Hezbollah used to siphon funds from government budgets to ensure Hezbollah-owned firms won bids for government contracts. He also helped the group to sensitive legal documents related to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

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