The United States sanctioned two former Lebanese government ministers on Tuesday for allegedly providing material support to the U.S.-designated terrorist group Hezbollah and engaging in corruption.
Former Lebanese Transport Minister Yusuf Finyanus and former Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil were sanctioned for directing “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,” said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement.
“Corruption has run rampant in Lebanon, and Hezbollah has exploited the political system to spread its malign influence,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary 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.”
The sanctions seek to weaken the U.S.-designated terrorist group’s influence in Lebanon in the aftermath of the Aug. 4 explosions in Beirut that killed nearly 200 people, injured thousands and left hundreds of thousands homeless.
With sanctions, the United States seeks to leverage reform in Lebanon, including ensuring that Hezbollah no longer has a grip on the government.
Said Pompeo: “Today’s designations demonstrate that Lebanese politicians who have provided a false veneer of political legitimacy to Hezbollah or abused their positions to direct public funds to the terrorist group are as responsible for its entrenched influence as Hezbollah’s own members or the corrupt businessmen and money launderers that have helped fund the group for decades.”