UPDATE 1-Lebanese bank to pay U.S. $102 mln in money-laundering case

Tue Jun 25, 2013 3:33pm EDT
 
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By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK, June 25 (Reuters) - A Lebanese bank accused of being at the center of global money-laundering schemes tied to the militant group Hezbollah has agreed to pay a $102 million settlement, U.S. prosecutors in New York said Tuesday.

The settlement would resolve a 2011 lawsuit that accused Lebanese Canadian Bank of using the U.S. banking system to launder drug-trafficking profits through West Africa back to Lebanon.

"Today's settlement shows that banks laundering money for terrorists and narco-traffickers will face consequences for their actions, wherever they may be located," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

Most of the bank's assets were acquired by the Lebanese subsidiary of France's Societe Generale after the U.S. Treasury Department designated Lebanese Canadian Bank as a "primary money-laundering concern" in February 2012.

The $102 million would come out of $150 million previously seized in August 2012 by the U.S. government, the Justice Department said.

The Societe Generale subsidiary, Societe Generale de Banque au Liban, would receive the other $48 million. Lebanese Canadian Bank would pay another $12 million to Societe Generale, the Justice Department said.

Evan Barr, a lawyer for Lebanese Canadian Bank, said the settlement "certainly resolves (the case) for our client." He said the bank is in liquidation in Lebanon following its $580 million purchase by Societe Generale.   Continued...