Estate planning in Lebanon

Whoever thinks of Lebanon and its capital Beirut will picture shot up buildings, a ghost town and the Hezbollah fighting with Israel. Forget all this – this is the painful past. The Lebanese are incredibly resilient people with an unrivalled business instinct. During the last 10 years, Beirut – with the exception of some remnants of war – has been transformed back into the ‘Paris of the East’, as it was previously known. A beautiful, fashionable city with boulevards like in Barcelona or Paris. In the city centre, entire neighbourhoods were reconstructed in the authentic style. And all this is blessed with a wonderful climate and a magnificent hinterland. But there’s more. If you’re walking down the Corniche at night, the beautiful pedestrian boulevard at the Mediterranean Sea, you must realise that Lebanon has one of the strictest banking secrecies in the world, and that it’s an important financial centre.

All Lebanese banks are bound to absolute secrecy with respect to their clients’ personal and account related information. Also, numbered bank accounts are available. The banking secrecy can only be lifted in very limited circumstances: (1) when a written authorisation is granted by the client or his/her heirs, (2) in the event of a bankruptcy, (3) in case of any litigation between the bank and the client or (4) when it concerns serious criminal offences such as money laundering of criminal funds. Banking secrecy in Lebanon isn’t a rage or hype, it has existed for decades!

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