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ECONOMIC CRISIS

Banks begin strike Monday amid unsettled reforms

Banks begin strike Monday amid unsettled reforms

Lebanon's central bank barred up against public entry. The Association of Banks in Lebanon on Friday announced they will be on strike Monday. (Credit: Anwar Amro/AFP)

BEIRUT — Banks are on strike Monday over what the Association of Banks in Lebanon referred to as “populist, harmful stances” taken against the sector, particularly after the arrest of the head of Lebanon’s Creditbank this week, Tarek Khalife.

Here’s what we know:

    • According to local media reports, banks have assured that ATMs will be filled on Monday and will be operational for any withdrawals in Lebanese pounds and fresh dollars.

    • The application of Banque du Liban's circular number 161, which authorizes banks to provide dollars in cash to their customers by converting them from their accounts into pounds at the rate of its Sayrafa exchange platform, has not been settled yet.

    • The Sayrafa rate had been fixed Friday evening at LL25,800 per dollar, while the exchange rate on the parallel market exceeded the bar of LL31,000 per dollar on Sunday.

    • The strike was announced on Friday evening after Khalife’s arrest (and later release) on Aug. 1 at the Beirut International Airport.

    • The ABL had denounced the “arbitrary” and “populist” actions taken by the courts against the banks, judging the current situation as “untenable.”

    • The Union of Depositors, the Cry of the Depositors and the lawyers' collective “Moutahidoun,” released a joint statement denouncing the “numerous takeovers since 2019 by banks that have failed in their contractual and legal obligations,” and accused ABL of keeping “Lebanon's economy hostage by using the weapon of strikes.”

    • In March of this year, Judge Ghada Aoun froze Creditbank’s assets and issued a travel ban against Khalife, along with five other banks and their heads. 

    • “It is a means of pressure and diversion at a time when the country must adopt several reforms which do not suit either politicians or banks, including adjusting banking secrecy, establishing capital controls or even organizing the restructuring of the banking sector,” the Union of Depositors concluded.

    • These are some of the reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund, which promised financial assistance of $3 billion over 46 months if certain prior actions or reforms are implemented.

    • On Wednesday, the general assembly of the ABL is set to meet with former Deputy and former Economy Minister Nicolas Nahas, close to the Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati, who will outline the restructuring plan for the banking sector.


BEIRUT — Banks are on strike Monday over what the Association of Banks in Lebanon referred to as “populist, harmful stances” taken against the sector, particularly after the arrest of the head of Lebanon’s Creditbank this week, Tarek Khalife.Here’s what we know:     • According to local media reports, banks have assured that ATMs will be filled on Monday and will be...