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Lebanon: banks close doors after attacks by depositors

September 20, 2022 at 9:52 am

A closed bank is seen as Lebanese banks launch 3-day general strike amid ongoing incursions by depositors in Beirut, Lebanon on September 19, 2022 [Hussam Shbaro – Anadolu Agency]

Most banks in Lebanon stayed closed on Monday after a series of high-profile attacks by depositors demanding access to their savings, Anadolu has reported. The closures were in response to a call by the Banking Association for a three-day strike in protest at delays in giving customers their money.

At least eight attacks were reported in Lebanon in recent days during which depositors managed to recover some of their frozen funds. Last week, for example, a woman carrying a gun broke into a bank in Beirut to withdraw $13,000 from her account.

READ: Lebanon banks close branches for 3 days after depositors’ incidents

Lebanese banks have imposed restrictions on foreign currency withdrawals from accounts for more than two and a half years, especially US dollars. Harsh ceilings have also been imposed on withdrawals in Lebanese pounds.

The exchange rate on the black market on Monday morning was between 38,200 and 38,400 Lebanese pounds per dollar. The rate is expected to continue to fall, especially following the banks’ closure.

Since 2019, Lebanon has been suffering from an unprecedented severe economic crisis that has led to a record collapse in the value of the local currency against the dollar. Serious shortages of fuel and medicine have also hit the Lebanese people hard.

READ: Woman holds up Lebanon bank for $13,000 of her own money, advocacy group says