The US sanctioned former Lebanese government ministers Tuesday for their alleged role in providing material support to Hezbollah and engaging in corruption.
The designations of Yusuf Finyanus and Ali Hassan Khalil “underscore how some Lebanese politicians have conspired with Hizballah at the expense of the Lebanese people and institutions,” said the Treasury Department, using an alternative spelling for Hezbollah,
“Corruption has run rampant in Lebanon, and Hizballah has exploited the political system to spread its malign influence,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “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.”
The agency said the “catastrophic” explosion at the Port of Beirut in August amplified urgent calls to do something about the country’s corrupt leadership.
It accused Finyanus, who served as transportation and public works minister, of “siphon funds from government budgets to ensure that Hizballah-owned companies won bids for Lebanese government contracts worth millions of dollars.”
Khalil, who was a former finance minister, was blamed for being “one of the officials Hizballah leveraged a relationship with for financial gain.”
“Today’s designations demonstrate that Lebanese politicians who have provided a false veneer of political legitimacy to Hizballah or abused their positions to direct public funds to the terrorist group are as responsible for its entrenched influence as Hizballah’s own members or the corrupt businessmen and money launderers that have helped fund the group for decades,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement about the sanctions.
Hezbollah “depends on Lebanon’s corrupt political system for survival,” Pompeo said, and emphasized that Lebanese people “deserve better” and the US will continue to support them.
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