Lebanese banks to close ‘indefinitely’ as hold-ups continue

Lebanon’s banks have been in crisis for months as depositors demand access to their savings.

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Two bankers have informed Reuters that, in response to an unprecedented spate of hold-ups by angry depositors wanting access to their cash, Lebanese banks have decided to permanently seal their doors to customers.

According to the two individuals cited by the news organization on Friday, banks will keep performing emergency client services and back-office services for businesses but will keep front-office services on hold.

Last month, similar conditions forced banks to shut for roughly a week, but they reopened at the start of October so that workers could get their paychecks.

Sali Hafiz, a young Lebanese lady, was hailed as a national hero in September when she robbed a BLOM Bank branch in Beirut using a fake pistol to withdraw thousands of dollars from her account to pay for her sister’s cancer treatment. She explained her conduct to an international news agency by saying that the bank had “stolen” her money.

She wasn’t the first customer to hold up a bank to get access to their funds, but her case did set off a chain reaction of similar incidents as people became more upset with the government’s inflexible policies.

The last week saw depositors storming three commercial banks in various parts of the nation, armed with firearms.

As a result of the economic crisis that began in 2019, banks have started implementing such ad hoc capital limits. Since then, the value of the local currency has dropped by over 90%, the GDP has fallen by over 40%, and inflation has remained in the triple digits.

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