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

Five banks “robbed” Friday, September 16 in Lebanon to customers who want to withdraw their blocked savings. Incidents that aroused broad public opinion support in the country hit by an unprecedented crisis.

Lebanon has fallen into severe economic and financial difficulties since 2019. Banks have imposed draconian restrictions, thus preventing customers from withdrawing their savings, especially in foreign currencies, especially in dollars.

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

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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 find out if these incidents were coordinated.

Voting on the adjourned budget

A parliamentary session scheduled for Friday to vote on the draft of the 2022 budget, one of the reforms requested by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to release billions of dollars in aid, was adjourned to September 26, after -back off more reps.

On Wednesday September 14, the anger of a Lebanese woman who stormed a bank in Beirut to recover her savings that had been blocked to pay for the hospitalization costs of her sister suffering from cancer had a snowball effect. . Friday afternoon, at least five robberies were reported.

Early in the morning, a man and his son entered a Byblos Bank branch in Ghaziyeh, southeast of Saida, the main southern city, a police source and a security officer told AFP. who witnessed the incident. The man threatened bank employees with a gun, which a local TV station said was fake. He eventually got about $19,000 in cash but immediately turned himself in to the police. A crowd gathered in front of the bank to support him.

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In Beirut, in the district of Tarik Jdide, a man locked himself in a branch of Blom Bank with the police, witnesses gathered on the street told AFP. According to them, a businessman who is in debt asked to withdraw his frozen savings. This robbery ended in the afternoon, after the man handed over his weapon to the police, while confirming that he intended to stay in the bank until his money was taken, according to an AFP reporter.

“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 $15,000. The man came out of the bank and was approached by the police.

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

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

Last August, a man was cheered by the crowd after claiming, at gunpoint in a bank in Beirut, more than 200,000 euros in savings to pay for his father’s hospital expenses. The bank gave him almost 30,000 euros and he surrendered to the authorities. He was not sued.

For its part, the main association of Lebanese rescuers expressed their support for the perpetrators of these robberies, confirming that they are facing “injustice and oppression”.

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The World with AFP

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