U.S. imposes sanctions on Lebanese president’s son-in-law
© Reuters. Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil attends a meeting with Italian counterpart Angelino Alfano in Rome
By Humeyra Pamuk and Matt Spetalnick
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States imposed sanctions on Friday on Gebran Bassil, the leader of Lebanon’s biggest Christian political bloc and son-in-law of President Michel Aoun, accusing him of corruption and ties to Hezbollah.
Bassil, a former foreign minister, heads the Free Patriotic Movement, founded by Aoun.
The sanctions could complicate efforts by Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri, who is trying to navigate Lebanon’s sectarian politics to assemble a cabinet to tackle a financial meltdown, Lebanon’s worst crisis since its 1975-1990 civil war.
In recent months, the United States has also placed sanctions on several officials linked to Hezbollah, the armed Iran-backed Shi’ite movement that has become Lebanon’s most powerful political force, and which Washington considers a terrorist group.
The Treasury Department said Bassil was at the “forefront of corruption in Lebanon”.
“The systemic corruption in Lebanon’s political system exemplified by Bassil has helped to erode the foundation of an effective government that serves the Lebanese people,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
Bassil said in a Twitter post that sanctions did not scare him and that he had not been “tempted by promises”.
A senior U.S. official said Bassil’s support for Hezbollah was “every bit of the motivation” for targeting him for sanctions.
Bassil was sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which targets human rights abuses and corruption around the world. It calls for a freeze on any U.S. assets and prohibits Americans from doing business with him.
The State Department also imposed a ban on Bassil’s travel to the United States. U.S. officials did not rule out further sanctions on Bassil or others in Lebanon.
A senior U.S. official said the sanctions announcement was “not intended to impact a government formation process” in Lebanon. The official also denied any connection between the announcement and this week’s U.S. elections, saying such sanctions packages take months to prepare.
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.
Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.