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Riad Salameh assures no interruption in Sayrafa operations

Salameh denied reports claiming that some banks would be suspending money transactions via the Sayrafa platform.

Riad Salameh assures no interruption in Sayrafa operations

The headquarters of Banque du Liban in Hamra. (Credit: Layal Dagher/L'Orient-Le Jour)

BEIRUT — Banque du Liban (BDL) governor Riad Salameh announced on Sunday that the Sayrafa platform, designed by the central bank to control foreign exchange transactions and stabilize fluctuations on the parallel market, will continue to operate under the same rules in force since March 2023.

He also denied reports claiming that some banks would be suspending money transactions via the platform.

"BDL continues to follow the same policy and to respond to requests put forward by banks as long as they comply with standards," he said in a statement.

The dollar-to-lira exchange rate on this platform generally fluctuates below the market rate. The mechanism for setting the rate has never been clearly defined by BDL. It is used for certain operations explicitly planned by BDL and opened during the last four years of the country's crisis.

The crisis generated the country's currency collapse and the imposition of illegal restrictions limiting depositors' access to their dollar funds.

Salameh's statement was issued after local channel MTV, citing sources on Friday evening, claimed that Salim Chahine, one of the four BDL vice-governors, launched negotiations with the Bloomberg agency to set up a foreign exchange platform to replace the Sayrafa platform, over which BDL would have no influence.

Chahine did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A bank executive, speaking on condition of anonymity, told L'Orient-Le Jour that Saturday's fluctuations in the dollar-to-lira exchange rate could be explained by rumors surrounding Sayrafa's fate.

On Saturday, the lira briefly exceeded 98,000LL to the dollar, before recovering in the evening. By Sunday afternoon, the national currency was trading at around LL92,000 to the dollar.

This new depreciation comes as Salameh's term of office, targeted by international arrest warrants on suspicion of corruption, is due to expire at the end of the month. He has no successor in place.

According to some observers, BDL vice-governor Wassim Mansouri (close to parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri), could succeed Salameh.

But in early July, the institution's four vice-governors in office since 2020 — Wassim Mansouri, Bachir Yakzan, Salim Chahine and Alexandre Moradian — called on the government to find a successor for Salameh and threatened to resign.

BDL's Central Council is expected to meet on Monday, according to the Lebanese press.

BEIRUT — Banque du Liban (BDL) governor Riad Salameh announced on Sunday that the Sayrafa platform, designed by the central bank to control foreign exchange transactions and stabilize fluctuations on the parallel market, will continue to operate under the same rules in force since March 2023.He also denied reports claiming that some banks would be suspending money transactions via the platform....