In Lebanon, five banks “robbed” by customers demanding their savings

In Lebanon, five banks "robbed" by customers demanding their savings
Lebanese soldiers in front of a branch of the Blom Bank, held up by one of its customers in Beirut, September 16, 2022.

Five banks were “robbed” Friday, September 16 in Lebanon by customers wanting to withdraw their blocked savings. Incidents that arouse broad support in public opinion in this country hit by an unprecedented crisis.

Lebanon has been plunged into serious economic and financial difficulties since 2019. Banks impose draconian restrictions, thus preventing customers from withdrawing their savings, especially in foreign currencies, especially dollars.

In 48 hours, seven banks were robbed, including five on Friday alone. Faced with the multiplication of these incidents, the Minister of the Interior, Bassam Mawlawi, held an emergency meeting “to take the necessary security measures”. “To claim your rights in this way (…) can harm the system and cause the rest of the savers to lose their rights”he warned after the meeting.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers In a bankrupt Lebanon, a monetary blur calculated to the detriment of depositors

The Association of Banks of Lebanon (ABL) ordered the closure of all branches for three days during the week of September 19-25.

Prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat ordered the arrest of those involved in these robberies, according to a judicial source contacted by Agence France-Presse (AFP). He also asked the security forces to determine whether these incidents were coordinated.

Vote on the adjourned budget

A parliamentary session scheduled for Friday to vote on the draft 2022 budget, one of the reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to release billions of dollars in aid, was adjourned to September 26, after the withdrawal of several deputies.

On Wednesday September 14, the exasperation of a Lebanese woman who stormed a bank in Beirut to recover her savings blocked in order to pay the hospitalization costs of her sister suffering from cancer had a snowball effect. . Friday at midday, no less than five other robberies had been identified.

Early in the morning, a man and his son broke into a branch of Byblos Bank in Ghaziyeh, southeast of Saida, the main city in the south, a police source and a security officer told AFP. witness to the incident. The man threatened bank employees with a gun, which a local TV station said was fake. He eventually managed to get some $19,000 in cash but then turned himself in to the police. A crowd had gathered in front of the bank to support him.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers “In Lebanon, the economy is subject to internal, regional and international political interests”

In Beirut, in the district of Tarik Jdide, a man locked himself in a branch of the Blom Bank with the police, witnesses gathered in the street told AFP. According to them, it is a trader in debt who demands the withdrawal of his frozen savings. This robbery ended in the afternoon, after the man handed over his weapon to the police, while affirming that he intended to stay in the bank until obtaining his money, according to an AFP correspondent.

“Injustice and Oppression”

In the nearby district of Ramlet al-Bayda, a man armed with a shotgun stormed a branch of the Lebanon & Gulf Bank, residents told an AFP photographer. His family eventually recovered the sum of $15,000. The man came out of the bank flanked by police.

In the southern suburbs of Beirut, a young man armed with a dummy gun said he was able to withdraw $20,000 from a bank, according to local media.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Shortage of gasoline, electricity, medicine, paper… Lebanon on the verge of paralysis

Finally, in the town of Chhim, in the south of the country, a retired soldier held six people hostage, including the director of a branch of BankMed, according to an association of savers. He finally got $25,000 and walked out of the bank surrounded by law enforcement.

In August, a man was cheered by the crowd after claiming, gun in hand in a Beirut bank, more than 200,000 euros in savings to pay for his father’s hospital costs. The bank had given him almost 30,000 euros and he had surrendered to the authorities. He was not prosecuted.

For its part, the main association of Lebanese savers expressed its support for the perpetrators of these robberies, affirming that they were confronted with “injustice and oppression”.

Also read the archive (2021): Article reserved for our subscribers In Lebanon, “the state is failing” in the face of the crisis

The World with AFP

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.