Lebanon is facing a dire economic crisis as a result of decades of governmental mismanagement, corruption, and the repeated failure of Lebanese leaders to undertake meaningful, sustained reforms. The devastating August 4 explosion has only magnified calls by the Lebanese people for economic and institutional reforms, better governance, and an end to the endemic corruption that has plagued Lebanon.
The United States stands with the Lebanese people who are saying “business as usual is unacceptable.” While the Lebanese people suffer through an economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, Iran-backed Hezbollah and its supporters exploit the rampant political corruption that has been pervasive in Lebanon for decades to promote their terrorist and illicit activities.
On September 8, the United States designated Yusuf Finyanus and Ali Hassan Khalil, two former government ministers, for providing material support to Hezbollah, pursuant to Executive Order 13224.
“While holding positions in previous Lebanese cabinets,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a written statement, “Finyanus and Khalil directed political and economic favors to Hezbollah, including ensuring Hezbollah-owned companies won government contracts worth millions of dollars and moving money from government ministries to Hezbollah-associated institutions.”
Yusuf Finyanus is a former minister of transportation while Ali Hassan Khalil is a former minister of finance, health, and agriculture.Both men abused their positions to direct public funds to the terrorist group.
“Hezbollah depends on Lebanon’s corrupt political system for survival,” wrote Secretary of State Pompeo. “Anyone helping to advance Hezbollah’s political or economic interests is further eroding what remains of effective governance and facilitating financing for terrorism.”
The Treasury Department noted in a written statement that “the multi-layered crisis in Lebanon stems from decades of corruption and economic mismanagement. …Since October 2019, popular, cross-sectarian protests across the country demanded political and economic reform in Lebanon. The protesters’ calls for “all of them, means all of them” demonstrates the seriousness of their desire for reform and to pull back the curtain on certain groups’ corruption, including Hezbollah.”
“Corruption has run rampant in Lebanon, and Hezbollah has exploited the political system to spread its malign influence,” said Secretary of the Treasury 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.”