Lebanese bank accused of stealing Saudi cash

Lebanon’s central bank accused the owners of the private bank al-Madina, which is facing a money-laundering probe, of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from Saudi clients.

The owners of al-Madina “stole hundreds of millions of dollars and falsified accounts to cover up for these operations,” according to a report by the central bank’s supervisory committee, published in the Lebanese press on Saturday.


One of the bank’s owners, Adnan Abu Ayash, “took large sums

belonging to the Saudi (Riyadh-based) company al-Rashid, without informing his associates, and transferred them to his personal account at al-Madina”, the report said.


Abu Ayash did not respect measures to protect the rights of

depositors, it added, saying the central bank had asked for the bank’s management to be brought to justice.


Twenty individuals and two companies have had their assets

frozen pending an investigation, which starts on Monday. 


An earlier case against the bank, filed in February, was dropped after one of the owners, Mahmud Abu Ayash, pledged to deposit 150 million dollars with the central bank to cope with a flood of withdrawals by customers.


Al-Madina’s debts in February stood at 1.2 billion dollars and

500 million dollars has since been paid out to depositors.


Under Lebanese legislation, the assets of the directors of a

bank suspected of money-laundering can be frozen for renewable five-day periods and banking secrecy lifted for the course of the investigation.


In June, the anti-laundering group Gafi removed Lebanon from its blacklist of countries which it said were failing to co-operate with the battle against financial crimes.

Source : News Agencies

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