Banks Association Says 'Criminal Acts' Won't Resolve Financial Crisis
The Association of Banks in Lebanon on Monday condemned the latest violent attacks against some banks and “the personal threats that targeted some banks' chairmen and board members.”
“ABL strongly condemns all kinds of attacks, especially the bombing and sabotage operations that targeted some bank branches yesterday in a number of Lebanese regions,” the Association said in a statement.
“These deplorable criminal acts that threaten security and the safety of the sector's employees cannot contribute to or speed up resolving the financial and monetary problems that the country is suffering amid this difficult period,” ABL added.
It also urged authorities to “pursue the attackers of banks and the perpetrators of these criminal acts and refer them to the judiciary to give them the punishments that they deserve.”
The attacks come at a time of rising public anger against banks in Lebanon, which is facing its worst economic and financial crisis in decades.
The value of Lebanon's local currency has been in free fall, losing over 60% of its value against the dollar in recent weeks. The downward spiral was accelerated by the central bank's decision to halt the withdrawal of dollars from foreign currency accounts or transfer bureaus. The central bank requires private banks to convert withdrawals into the local currency at a market rate set daily.
The decision brought back protests to the streets of Lebanon earlier this week, as demonstrators criticized the central bank governor and private banks and accused them of sequestering their savings in foreign currency.
In a sign of the deepening crisis, Prime Minister Hassan Diab accused the longtime central bank governor Riad Salameh of orchestrating the local currency's crash and criticized what he called his "opaque" policies that he said covered up major banking sector losses and capital flight.