The Association of Banks in Lebanon on Tuesday blamed the state and the central bank for the country’s “extended systemic crisis,” while calling on depositors to engage in dialogue amid a wave of hold-ups triggered by a national financial meltdown
“Unifying efforts to demand that the public sector return the deposits is what’s needed… and the Association of Banks calls for a frank dialogue between depositors and banks to demand the recovery of the private sector funds wasted by the state,” ABL added.
ABL said that the central bank is also responsible after it implemented the policies of the successive governments, criticizing the state for “passing budgets, spending and wasting funds, and declaring a default,”
Adding that banks “have borne and are still bearing repercussions that exceed any responsibility for them in this extended systemic crisis,” ABL said that the banks are “willing to contribute to finding a legal and fair solution that should be sponsored by the state as soon as possible.”
“We call on the state to immediately shoulder its responsibilities and listen to all parties concerned, especially ABL and the depositors, in order to find the appropriate and possible solutions for dealing with the extended systemic crisis in the country and its dangerous repercussions that have affected everyone,” the Association urged.
Outraged depositors, at least two of them armed, have stormed around five banks in less than 48 hours.
In the northern city of Tripoli, employees and workers of the Kadisha Electricity Company stormed a branch of the FNB bank in protest at the bank’s deduction of fees from their salaries.
An Internal Security Forces retiree armed with a pistol and a grenade entered the Chtaura branch of BLC Bank, demanding access to his $24,000 in savings. He was later arrested by security forces after a bank employee managed to seize the weapon from him.
The Depositors Association, campaigning for angry depositors, said he had repeatedly asked the bank to transfer $4,300 to his son who is studying in Ukraine, after he was expelled from his university and residence due to his failure to pay tuition and rent. The depositor had also undergone medical checkups to determine if he could sell a kidney in order to secure the needed money, the association added.
Another depositor stormed Byblos Bank in the southern city of Tyre, demanding that he take his $44,000 deposit. The bank later agreed with Hodroj to give him a sum of LBP 352 million.
In Hazmieh, former Lebanese Ambassador to Turkey Georges Siam entered an Intercontinental Bank of Lebanon branch demanding some of his locked savings. The branch staff shuttered its doors while Siam continued to negotiate with management.
Similar incidents have been snowballing across Lebanon as the population grows more frustrated over informal capital controls that banks have imposed since an economic downturn began in 2019.
Source: Agencies and Websites