Lebanon’s Jammal Trust Bank forced to close by U.S. sanctions

FILE PHOTO: A pedestrian walks past Jammal Trust Bank (JTB) branch in Ashrafieh, Lebanon, August 30, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir September 19, 2019
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s Jammal Trust Bank has been forced to wind itself down after being hit last month by U.S. sanctions for allegedly helping to fund the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement, the bank said on Thursday.
The central bank said the value of the bank’s assets, and its share of the national deposit guarantee body, were “in principle enough to pay all deposits and commitments.”
Jammal Trust Bank denied the U.S. allegations in August after the bank and its subsidiaries were hit with sanctions, accused of helping to fund the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon.

“Despite its sound financial situation … and its full compliance with banking regulations, the (bank) was forced to take the decision to liquidate itself in full coordination with the central bank,” Jammal Trust said in a statement.
The bank has 25 branches in Lebanon and representative offices in Nigeria, the Ivory Coast and Britain, its website says.
It is a relatively small lender, with net assets of 1,600 billion Lebanese pounds ($1 billion) at the end of 2017, according to the annual report on the latest year for which data is available.
Washington has sought to choke off Hezbollah’s funding worldwide, with sanctions among a slew of steps against Tehran since U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew last year from a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran.

(Reporting by Ellen Francis and Tom Perry in Beirut, Lisa Barrington in Dubai; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Mark Potter)

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