A reliable source from within Lebanon’s central bank, Banque du Liban, has revealed that more than $18 billion that belonged to Iraqi politicians, the Iraqi government, and the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq had “evaporated” as a result of Lebanon’s banking crisis.
The source, who declined to be named, said, “This is what can be counted, and is officially registered in the names of Iraqi personalities, companies, or government agencies. There are many personalities whose balances are registered under other names and with other nationalities.”
He explained, “The numbers are much higher. There are politicians who are afraid of sanctions, so they have opened bank accounts in the names of Lebanese personalities who follow the same trend, and they are often followers of [Hezbollah and the Amal movement], loyal to Iran, or even Sunni personalities.”
The source further claimed that, up to this point, the Iraqis have not requested to withdraw their money, and that even if they did, the Central Bank of Lebanon would be unable to comply due to a lack of liquidity, and that “until liquidity is available, these funds remain just numbers in the banks.”
He said that the regional administration of Kurdistan owns more than $650 million and the Iraqi government has more than $1.3 billion. “As for the rest of the sums, they belong to political figures, businessmen, and others who hold Iraqi citizenship, and their money has been deposited in Lebanese banks in their names and nationalities. As for those who hold other nationalities, such as European, Iranian, Asian, or American nationalities, we will not be able to count them.”
For more than 25 years, the Lebanese pound’s value in relation to the dollar remained constant at about 1,515 LBP to $1. From 2019, it gradually declined as a result of the country’s terrible economic situation, reaching 39,000 Lebanese pounds to the dollar on the black market, despite the fact that the official rate is still 1,517 Lebanese pounds to the dollar.
Money from Iraq that was unlawfully gained by politicians was routinely placed in foreign banks, which contributed to the country’s political corruption. Depositing money abroad, with the exception of nations that did not apply US sanctions, has become challenging since the end of 2017, when the US government, led by the late President Donald Trump, started imposing penalties on some of the politicians.
Pan Finance is a print journal and news website providing worldwide intelligence on finance, economics and global commerce. Known for our in-depth analysis and opinion pieces from esteemed academics and celebrated professionals; our readership consists of senior decision makers from across the globe.