BEIRUT — Beirut judge of urgent matters Carla Choueh on July 7 ordered Al-Mawarid Bank (AM Bank) to reopen the accounts of two customers and of the company in which they are partners, according to a copy of the ruling that L'Orient-Le Jour consulted Saturday.
AM Bank closed the account of Ronald Sultanem, held jointly with Ronald Sultanem and Georges Sultanem, as well as an account of their company Sacom, on May 29. In her decision, the judge ruled that placing "deposits with a notary [does] not constitute an effective method of payment, as the conditions for such payment are not met in the current financial situation" of the country. She also ordered AM Bank to pay LL 5 million for each day to elapse between her judgement and its the bank's compliance.
The bank had also closed the company's "fresh" foreign currency account (dollars that can be withdrawn in cash), which benefits the families of six employees. This account had been closed while one of the partners, Georges Sultanem, was abroad, which hampered his capacity to conduct business and pay living expenses, the judgment says. The magistrate therefore ordered the reopening of this "fresh" account.
Judge Choueh's decision is subject to appeal, the deadline for which lapses Monday. To date, the applicants have not been notified of any appeal.
Banks have been imposing unsanctioned restrictions on their customers since Lebanon's economic crisis began in 2019, limiting withdrawals and transfers. In recent months, the country has seen a wave of hold-ups in which depositors, sometimes armed, have broken into bank branches to claim their own funds.
The French judiciary indicted the head of AM Bank, former minister Marwan Kheireddine, last March as part of an investigation into the assets of Lebanon's central bank governor, Riad Salameh.