Lebanese charity says unfairly hit by US anti-Hezbollah law

World Saturday 21/May/2016 23:13 PM
By: Times News Service
Lebanese charity says unfairly hit by US anti-Hezbollah law

Beirut: A Lebanese charity network run by a cleric said it had been unfairly caught up in new US financial sanctions against Hezbollah, accusing Lebanese banks of applying the restrictions too widely.
The US act passed in December threatens to punish any organisation providing significant finance to Lebanese group Hezbollah.
The Mabarrat foundation told Reuters that some Lebanese banks, scared of risking international isolation, had frozen some of its accounts, even though it had no political affiliation.
The foundation was established by the late Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, who was an early mentor to Hezbollah.
He died in 2010.
Sayyed Ali Fadlallah, his son, declined to say which bank or banks had frozen the accounts.
"The foundation's name was not mentioned in this law... what is happening now are precautionary measures taken by some institutions that are dealing with this matter far removed from the accuracy required to ensure no one is done an injustice," Fadlallah told Reuters in an interview on Friday.
The foundation generates funding through individual donations and a network of businesses including hotels, restaurants and petrol stations.
"We felt from our meeting with some of the banks that they are afraid and wanted to take precautions that were greater than necessary," said Fadlallah, whose charities include schools, hospitals and orphanages.
The US Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act has ignited an unprecedented dispute between Hezbollah, Lebanon's most powerful group, and the central bank.
Hezbollah has criticised the central bank for agreeing to measures it deems as part of a war against it.
The organisation has said the law will lead to "a wide rift" between Lebanese citizens and the bank.
The central bank has said the US law must be applied to avoid the international isolation of Lebanon's banking sector.
Central bank governor Riad Salameh said in a May 17 statement that banks that intended to close accounts of individuals or organisations considered to be in breach of the US
law must provide justification for that decision, and wait for a response from a central bank committee.
Since 2001, the United States has put more than 100 individuals and entities affiliated with Hezbollah onto sanctions lists under existing anti-terrorism funding legislation, but the new law is aimed at Hezbollah specifically.