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Minor blast in Beirut bank will have major repercussions

The bombing of the BLOM Bank in Beirut could have repercussions for Lebanon’s banking, financial, economic, political and security stability.
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The bomb that exploded June 12 at the BLOM Bank on Verdun Street in central Beirut did not cause major material damage and only slightly injured two people. Its political and security repercussions, however, will be major. The bomb exploded at the headquarters of one of Lebanon's leading banks, and it took place against a backdrop of heightened tensions between Hezbollah and Lebanese banking and financial authorities stemming from implementation of the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015 (HIFPA), a US law calling for sanctions against anyone found to be financially supporting or doing business with Hezbollah, which the United States has designated a terrorist organization.

After the release of regulations for implementing HIFPA on April 15, the issue sparked conflict in Beirut. Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah repeatedly referenced it in his speeches, assessing its consequences and warning Lebanese authorities about its repercussions. The Central Bank of Lebanon and the Association of Lebanese Banks took the position that Lebanon is obliged to apply HIFPA and cannot afford the risk of manipulation to skirt the law, under penalty of Lebanese banks facing US sanctions, which could lead to their closure.

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