BEIRUT — Depositor Hani Andari and his wife Ihsan Ajami, who held up a Hammana bank on Friday morning, reached an agreement with their bank that afternoon in which they will gradually receive their deposit of more than $40,000 in full, starting Monday, their lawyer Rami Ollaik told L'Orient Today.
Ollaik, of the Mouttahidoun collective, was present at the scene and confirmed the bank hold up to L'Orient-Le Jour.
He told L'Orient Today that the couple were released after being investigated at the police station in Hammana.
According to Ollaik, the depositor was armed with a live-fire pistol and had "fired two shots in the air." "He claimed the sum of $40,000 to provide for a medical emergency in his family. I tried to reason with him, but he put the gun to his head, threatening to shoot himself if his demands weren't met," Ollaik had said.
Meanwhile, Zahi Jaffal, director of Crédit Libanais in Nabatiyeh, denied reports that this branch had been held up on Friday by a depositor. Other rumors concerning a robbery of the Libano-Swiss bank in Sour by a man armed with an explosive device were denied by an eyewitness interviewed by our correspondent.
On Thursday, two depositors stormed Banque Byblos in Sin el-Fil, east of Beirut, but to no avail. Two days earlier, two other depositors, one armed with a grenade, managed to take part of their savings from a BBAC branch in Bent Jbeil, South Lebanon, and from a Crédit Libanais branch in Chehim, Chouf.
On Monday, a depositor, accompanied by his 13-year-old son, managed to take back his $15,000 savings after attacking a branch of Al-Mawarid Bank in Antelias, along the Metn coast. Last week, a depositor in his sixties obtained his entire savings of $6,500 after staging a short sit-in at the Banque Misr Liban branch in downtown Beirut.
Following this series of bank hold-ups, the Association of Banks in Lebanon (ABL) announced on Thursday that banks would reinstate "strict preventive measures" from Friday. Banks in Saida, Nabatieh, and Sour complied with these directives on Friday, keeping their doors closed and receiving customers by appointment only, according to our correspondent.
Banks have been imposing illegal restrictions on deposits since Lebanon's economic crisis began in 2019, limiting withdrawals and transfers. In recent months, the country has seen a wave of robberies in which depositors, sometimes armed, have broken into bank branches to forcibly reclaimed their funds.
Additional reporting by Muntasser Abdallah