Paris, September 14, 2021 – This Tuesday, the MEPs will assess with the High Representative Borrell (1) the political and economic situation in Lebanon experiencing an economic and financial crisis that “could be classified among the ten, even the three most severe global crises since the middle of the 19th century”, according to a World Bank report . Sherpa reiterates the need to put in place sanctions against Lebanese leaders and entities implicated in the country’s dramatic financial turmoil.
On May 3, 2021, Sherpa and the Collective of Victims of Fraudulent and Criminal Practices in Lebanon lodge a complaint with the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office targeting not only acts of corruption and money laundering in connection with the outsourcing of considerable capital from the crisis of autumn 2019, but also the suspicious conditions under which Lebanese private or public officials have acquired real estate in France.
This complaint aims not only at fighting against financial impunity that many Lebanese political figures have enjoyed so far, but also to allow the seisin of looted funds in order to return them to the Lebanese population according to the stolen assets restitution mechanism recently adopted in France. Indeed, if the fight against corruption must be a priority internationally, the issue of the restitution of illegal funds to the populations must remain at the center of the debates.
It is therefore urgent for the European Union to take sanctions against Lebanese leaders and officials, including the freezing of the assets they have on the European territory, in order to allow legal proceedings initiated to prosper and prevent the flight of those assets to non-cooperative territories ((where seizure and return to the Lebanese population would be impossible in the event of a final conviction)). Such measures are all the more urgent that financial dematerialization now allows extremely rapid movements of funds potentially to tax and legal havens which are black holes for illicit financial flows.
Such sanctions are necessary and effective. The adverse effect on international trade and the Lebanese population of those measures is very limited as it only targets assets of corrupt leaders and related entities.
The promotion and protection of human rights is a priority of the EU’s external action, and asset freezing measures are a particularly effective tool for imposing sanctions against individuals and entities which undermines democracy and the rule of law in Lebanon.
(1) At the session of the Council of Foreign Affairs held on July 12, 2021, the High Representative announced a political agreement for the establishment of a sanctions regime against those responsible for the situation.Last modified: 2 December 2021