A depositor forcibly collected his savings on Tuesday from a Bankmed branch in Jeb Jennine, Bekaa, the association Cry of the Depositors and a bank spokesman confirmed to L'Orient-Le Jour.
The man was then arrested.
"Mohammad Issa came with his cousin shortly after 12pm and threatened the employees with a dummy weapon and a real grenade, although he did not pull the pin," said a Cry of the Depositors spokesperson. Issa demanded his savings, which amounted to $5,200 and "the employees gave him his money directly, and the whole thing lasted barely 20 minutes," the spokesperson said. Issa then gave himself up to the police.
The group "demands his immediate release" in a post on X (formerly Twitter).
The spokesperson added that Issa had been trying to withdraw his money from the bank for a month because he needed "to help his father, who is ill, but the bank refused." Issa is a client of the Chtaura branch, but since it was closed, he went to Jeb Jennine.
A Bankmed spokesman told L'Orient Le Jour that Issa burst into the bank accompanied by his brother and collected $6,000.
"He pulled a gun on an employee and was led to the safe (...) then handed over the money to his brother, who fled and is still on the run," said the Bankmed spokesperson. Issa, who deposited his money after the beginning of Lebanon's 2019 crisis, "had accepted a deal to withdraw a small portion in dollars and the rest at a rate of 15,000 Lebanese pounds to the dollar."
Banks have been imposing illegal restrictions on accounts since the start of the crisis, limiting withdrawals and transfers. The country has seen several waves of bank robberies in which depositors, sometimes armed, have burst into bank branches to claim their own funds.