Banks willing to help finance Iraq reconstruction: Torbey

12 January 2017


Lebanese banks are willing to help finance the reconstruction drive in Iraq thanks to the big assets held by these lenders, the head of the Association of Banks in Lebanon said Wednesday.

“With our sympathy to the suffering of our Iraqi brothers due to the open war against terrorism and in solidarity with the efforts to rebuilt the state and its institutions, we consider our banking sector, which has assets of close to $200 billion, capable and ready to be a partner in the reconstruction, through direct finance within the legal ceilings and through the attraction and management of joint financing operations,” Joseph Torbey told participants in the Iraq Banking Forum held in Beirut.Several Lebanese banks are already operating in Iraq, which is considered a promising market despite the ongoing war.

“Our banks were among the first to enter Iraq and we have the biggest number of branches and we are the most active among all foreign banks. Our aim is to serve the economic and financial cooperation between both countries,” Torbey said.He added that the Lebanese banks in Iraq are providing banking and financing needs for trade and offer high-quality retail products.

Torbey said that all the Lebanese banks in Iraq comply with the directives and guidelines of the Iraqi Central Bank as well as the instructions of the Central Bank of Lebanon.

He reiterated the Lebanese banks’ commitment to the international rules for combating money laundering and terrorism financing, as well as fighting tax evasion and all forms of corruption.

Central Bank Gov. Riad Salameh also stressed that Banque du Liban has always sought to establish the best ties with Arab central banks and most notably Iraq Central Bank.

He added that this relationship has had a positive economic impact on the economies of both Lebanon and Iraq.

Salameh said that BdL will continue to put guidelines and controls on all Lebanese banks wishing to expand outside the country.

He added that Lebanese banks that have subsidiaries in Arab countries and other states must finance their needs through the issuance of instruments in foreign currencies, noting that BdL will soon issue a circular on this issue.

Salameh disclosed that Lebanese banks operating abroad have $38 billion in assets, $4 billion of which is in private equity.