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US sanctions top Lebanese politician citing corruption

The United States has imposed sanctions on top Lebanese politician and Christian ally of Hezbollah, Gebran Bassil, for alleged corruption. The sanction blocks Bassil's ability to hold assets and carry out financial transactions in the US.

Bassil has served in multiple high-level posts in the Lebanese government, including as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Minister of Energy and Water, and Minister of Telecommunications.

According to US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, the “systemic corruption in Lebanon's political system exemplified by Bassil has helped to erode the foundation of an effective government that serves the Lebanese people”.

A State Department news release stated that during Bassil’s tenure as Minister of Energy, he “was involved in approving several projects that would have steered Lebanese government funds to individuals close to him through a group of front companies”.

"This designation further demonstrates that the United States supports the Lebanese people in their continued calls for reform and accountability," Steve added. 

It is believed that as a leading candidate for the next presidential elections, the sanctions are likely to impair Bassil’s chances to hold the top office. 

Mr Bassil reacted defiantly on Twitter stating that the US measures "have not frightened me and promises have not tempted me".

Earlier this year, the US also sanctioned two former Lebanese government ministers for allegedly providing material support to Hezbollah and engaging in corruption

Read more here.

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