BEIRUT — The Association of Banks in Lebanon (ABL) reacted on Tuesday afternoon to the "wave of attacks" suffered by some banks this week, threatening to "revert to measures taken beforehand, should the attacks not stop," without specifying exactly what measures these might be, or whether they intended to close their doors as they have done previously.
"Yesterday [Monday], a rumor circulated that the banks were planning to close [their branches]. The banks denied this information in order to guarantee the interests of depositors and the continuity of services. But the attacks continued as if to push these establishments to close,"ABL said in a press release. The association, which groups over 40 chains, also denounced "the permissiveness of the state in dealing with [bank] attackers."
"The banks are warning that they will not be able to continue business as usual. They will have to go back to the measures they took before, in case the attacks don't stop," added ABL, without further details. "This is not the way to deal with crises caused primarily by the state, and this is not how depositors will be able to recover the money that harmful policies have squandered over the years," the statement continued. "Arming ourselves with wisdom and passing the laws necessary to preserve depositors' rights is the only way to reach a solution."
Banks have been implementing security restrictions for months after a series of hold-ups by depositors trying to recover - sometimes with weapons - their own foreign currency funds, which were frozen by restrictions illegally imposed by the sector from the first months of the crisis that has been ongoing since 2019.
Over the past days, several depositors held-up banks and succeed to recover parts of their savings. The latest incidents took place today in two different banks.
In early 2023, banks went on strike to call on Parliament to pass a capital control law. They protested a court decision authorizing legal action by Lebanese depositors against Fransabank.