Lebanon’s Fransabank shuts down all branches in response to assets freeze
Over half a dozen Lebanese banks have been hit with judicial orders freezing their assets in connection to their role in the economic collapse of 2019
By News Desk - March 17 2022

(Photo credit: beirut.com)

On 16 March, Lebanon’s Fransabank has shut down all of its branches in response to a judicial order that froze its shares, properties, and assets.

All monetary operations in the bank were suspended ahead of the shutdown, and safes and registers were sealed with red wax. The judicial order was issued after a depositor filed a lawsuit against the bank demanding it pay out his deposit in cash.

A day later, another judicial order also froze the assets of Credit Libanais, including those of its executives and board of directors. The bank’s chief, Tarek Khalifeh, was also slapped with a travel ban.

Both banks are being investigated in connection with the illicit transfer of billions outside the country since the outset of the 2019 economic crisis.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati called the judicial order “dangerous” and described it as “showing off.”

He added that the order would affect what remains of trust in the Lebanese banking system, saying: “I fear that matters might develop into dire consequences.”

Mikati was charged in 2019 for his alleged role in making illicit gains through state-subsidized housing loans.

The orders against the two banks come days after Judge Ghada Aoun froze the assets of Lebanon’s five largest banks, as well as those of their executives and directors as part of the same investigation.

The banks, led by the Lebanese central bank and its governor Riad Salameh, are accused of having caused the economic crisis through mismanagement and criminal behavior.

Judge Aoun also recently issued a travel ban against Salameh as well as a warrant for his arrest.

However, when the warrant was carried out, Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) reportedly interfered and protected Salameh from being captured. This move was revealed to have likely been caused by the direct intervention of the US Ambassador to Lebanon, Dorothy Shea.

In response to this interference, Judge Aoun issued a lawsuit against Lebanon’s Police Chief for alleged obstruction of justice.

Most Popular