Money laundering in Lebanon
By Raed Hajj Ahmad
Money laundering is an illegal act intended to conceal the source or use of illicit funds, by converting cash into untraceable bank transactions. Money laundering consists of 3 stages: Placement: the launderer introduces the illegal proceeds into the financial system. • Layering: the launderer engages in a series of operations on the illicit funds movements, in order to distance them from their source. This involves using different channels that make reverse tracing impossible. • Integration: the funds re-enter the formal financial system, and the launderer can invest the funds in any business of high-value assets .An explanation for the three points above is: People that obtain their money through illegal activities such as selling girls, weapons, and drugs, usually get all their money through cash transactions, so they open a certain store or business so that they can tell the bank that the money they obtained is legal (from their business). That way they can deposit their cash into bank accounts thus invest in projects such as construction and real estate. Money laundering operations can occur in banks, money exchange firms, antique dealers, jewelry dealers, and real estate concerns. Many stores in Lebanon can be suspicious of money laundering activities, such as clothes shops which open in very expensive are (such as Beirut Souks) and sell valuable brands. If observed carefully, these stores have an extremely low number of costumers daily, which makes you wonder how they are covering their rent and employee expenses. Fortunately, an organization called the Special Investigation Commission developed in Lebanon, and its role is to fight money laundering by applying regulations and laws in force. This is done by fostering interagency and global cooperation for fighting domestic and international money-laundering crimes. The job of...
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