Lebanon's Salameh Seeks to Legitimize Banks’ Measures to Prevent Prosecution

Sunday, 2 February, 2020 - 07:45
Beirut – Mohammad Shoukair

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab, Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh and Chairman of Association of Banks Salim Sfeir failed to quell the fears of Lebanese depositors amid an escalating liquidity crunch facing the Middle Eastern country.

Unless Lebanon receives international financial support that would push towards the restoration of its financial and banking institutions the country will continue to suffer.

Salameh, for his part, is currently seeking to “legitimize” coercive measures that banks resorted to and which inflicted prejudice and injustice on depositors.

Asharq Al-Awsat learned from banking and judicial sources that the lack of "legalization" of these measures would open the door to prosecution of banks due to their violation of the monetary and credit laws.

More so, many banks did not comply with the circular issued by Salameh regarding the right of depositors to obtain cash on transfers received from abroad after October 17.

Salameh said that the circular related to regulating relationships between banks and their customers at the current phase was submitted to Diab and Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni ten days ago.

Salameh also noted that “if they agreed on it, it will be issued in the usual way and will not include any exceptional measures."

“Operations will continue in the banks as usual,” he added.

Salameh concluded by saying that the aim was finding an "equal and fair treatment among all customers.”

It is noteworthy that the expected circular will provide banks with protection to prevent their prosecution with a retroactive effect.

According to sources, Salameh intends to take some “important” measures in agreement with local banks, and under a political cover, within the exceptional powers granted to him by the Monetary and Credit Law / Article 174.

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