Monday, February 19, 2024

Financial Crime and Cash Economy - Rethinking Lebanon strikes again

"Ca va sans dire, mais ca va mieux en le disant" (it goes without saying, but it goes better saying it) said Charles De Gaulle: Lebanon has become a de facto cash economy. With banks holding all our money hostage, with banks doing all kinds of tricks to take money when you deposit, transfer, or withdraw (lately, they are charging 70 USD to retrieve money coming from abroad). Money transfer systems (such as OMT/Western Union or Wish or BOB Finance) have become the way people handle money as opposed to banks.
A conference about "Financial Crime and Cash Economy" is being co-organized by Holy Spirit University of Kaslik and Rethinking Lebanon (helmed by the intrepid Jihad El Hokayem) in collaboration with the Lebanese Army. This conference will convene experts to address the rise in financial crimes resulting from Lebanon's shift to a cash economy. Of course, the idea is that with very few choices the Lebanese have, what is the best way to stop money laundering and such other crimes now that cash is the most used means in Lebanon.
The conference will mainly focus areas are identifying new illicit cash flow trends, evaluating policies to boost cash transparency, improving cross-sector information sharing, and building awareness. It is to be noted that as per the World Bank the severe economic and financial crisis Lebanon is enduring is likely to rank in the top 3, most severe crises episodes globally since the mid-nineteenth century.
Experts will also examine solutions to reduce overreliance on cash, including restoring trust in banks, expanding digital payments (funny story, last time I was at my bank, I signed papers for the renewal of my card but - the person handling my application did not give me the said card, nor did I ask for it - why? Because the card is worthless at this point since no money comes into it!), implementing focused cash regulations, and incentivizing formal financial services. The goal is to advance a coordinated response that combats financial crimes while considering economic and inclusion impacts as Lebanon transitions away from a cash-based system.
The conference will be held at Jean Paul II amphitheater, USEK campus - Jounieh, on March 26, 2024 from 9:30 AM until 2:30 PM. The maximum capacity of the amphitheater is 1350 attendees in person. However, you can tune in to a live stream on zoom or dive into an immersive metaverse experience, the conference will be also covered by various media outlets and channels.