Lebanese banks begin partial reopening following heist spree
A number of banks have remained shut, while those that reopened have significantly increased their security
By News Desk - September 26 2022

(Photo credit: Reuters)

Lebanon’s banks began a partial reopening on 26 September after having shut down for a week following the many raids carried out by desperate depositors earlier in the month.

As a result of the raids, the banks announced their indefinite closure last week.

On 25 September, the Association of Banks in Lebanon announced that the banks will reopen the following day at partial capacity to businesses, schools, universities, and hospitals. ATMs will be available “for everyone else,” the association said, and to facilitate the transfer of public and private sector salaries.

Georges Hajj, a member of Lebanon’s union of banking employees, said that some bank branches have yet to reopen, while the ones that did have significantly increased security. “This week is a test to see how things will unfold,” Hajj added.

Since 2019, Lebanon has been experiencing the worst economic collapse in modern history. After initially locking citizens out of their bank accounts completely, Lebanese banks started to impose limits on withdrawals. If a client had a US dollar account, banks would only disburse their money in Lebanese currency, which has lost over 90 percent of its value.

On 14 September, a Lebanese woman, Sally Hafez, stormed a bank with a toy gun in a desperate attempt to access her own savings and pay for her sister’s cancer treatment. Hafez was eventually able to recover $12,000 dollars plus around 30 million Lebanese liras, inspiring others desperate to access their savings to take similar action.

Two days later, at least eight Lebanese banks across the country were raided by desperate depositors demanding access to their own money.

Over the last several months, Lebanon has been involved in negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order to secure a much-needed, $3 billion bailout package to pull the country out of its crippling economic crisis. The crisis has largely been caused by the corruption of the Central Bank and its head, Riad Salameh.

An IMF delegation is expected to arrive in Lebanon shortly to “speed up” the implementation of the loan program, a spokesman for the organization said on 15 September, as there has been “slow progress” on the part of the Lebanese state in applying the reform policies put forth as conditions by the fund.

Most Popular