The United States imposed new sanctions on Tuesday on two Lebanese brothers, as well as several of their companies, who it said had used their wealth to engage in corrupt practices that contribute to the breakdown of the rule of law in Lebanon.
“Today’s action underscores the United States’ commitment to shining a light on corrupt actions, which continue to unjustly impact the Lebanese people,” Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in a statement.
“Now more than ever, the Lebanese government should implement desperately needed economic and political reforms.”
The US Treasury Department in the statement said it imposed sanctions on Raymond Zina Rahme and Teddy Zina Rahme, accusing them of using companies under their control to win multiple government contracts through “a highly opaque public tendering process.”
The Treasury said the brothers and businessmen in 2017 secured a subcontract to import fuel for use by Lebanon’s state-owned national electricity utility and to import fuel on behalf of the Lebanese Ministry of Energy and Water in a reportedly corrupt bidding process.
Washington said the two imported tainted fuel, causing significant harm to power plants in Lebanon.
Through their United Arab Emirates-based company ZR Energy DMCC, which was also hit with sanctions on Tuesday, they “passed off their dangerously compromised fuel product by blending it with other fuels,” Treasury said.
“While the Rahme brothers enriched themselves with this scheme, the Lebanese people suffered, and the country’s infrastructure further deteriorated. Power stations across Lebanon increasingly malfunctioned and daily electricity cuts increased,” Treasury said in the statement.