Lebanese banks will close indefinitely after a barrage of robberies


Lebanese banks will remain closed indefinitely due to continuing “risks” to employees and customers, the Association of Lebanese Banks announced Wednesday.

The closures follow a string of robberies across the country over the past month, with at least five separate banks blocked by depositors last Friday alone in an attempt to recover frozen savings in the banking system.

Millions of Lebanese citizens were locked out of their accounts after the country plunged into the financial crisis in October 2019. With the local currency losing 90% of its value, more than three-quarters of the population has been pushed into poverty. and most are unable to pay for basic items.

In August, a gunman broke into a bank in the capital Beirut and threatened to kill himself and the hostages if the bank did not allow him to withdraw money from his blocked account. Claiming that he needed the funds to pay for his father’s medical bills, Bassam Sheikh Hussein surrendered to the police after the bank gave him some of his savings.

After being hailed by groups outside the bank, Hussein was hailed as a national hero by many on social media. An anonymous security source speculated on CNN that Hussein’s methods could be replicated by others.

On Wednesday, a woman took $ 20,000 out of her account after storming a bank armed with what she later claimed was a toy gun to finance her sister’s cancer treatment, according to state news.

Later on the same day, a gunman walked into a bank in the mountain town of Aley and recovered some of his trapped savings before surrendering himself to the authorities.

A bank window shattered after a woman stormed it on September 14th.

Lebanese army soldiers secured premises near a bank in Beirut after a depositary stormed the branch asking for access to his money.

The five banks blocked on Friday included an incident in the southern city of Ghazieh, where a gunman – after spilling gasoline on the bank floor – threatened to burn the building if he didn’t have access to his money, the agency said. state press NNA.

He recovered $ 19,200 and passed the money to someone waiting for him outside the branch before handing himself over to authorities, the NNA said.