Great Britain condemns measures taken by Lebanese banks to close accounts of British citizens

The British Embassy in Lebanon issued a statement condemning the closure of bank accounts of British citizens by Lebanese banks.

The information follows a decision published by a London court, which obliged Banque Audi and Société Generale de Banque au Libain (SGBL) to transfer an amount of $4 million abroad to one of its account holders, whose Residence in UK.

In retaliation for the legal risk and risk of being removed from the international financial system, Lebanese banks have decided to unilaterally close accounts of British citizens or residents of Great Britain, by depositing the balances of these accounts in bank checks with a notary. . And these amounts do not have to be transferred abroad.

The British embassy in Lebanon believed that “this unilateral action by banks that alienated account holders on the basis of their British residence or nationality appears to be targeted and discriminatory”, before prosecuting the note. That these measures constitute a potential violation of relevant banking laws and regulations and Lebanese political, but expresses its concerns to the financial and banking authorities.

The British ambassador to Lebanon, Ian Collard, thus met successively with the depositors’ union, the president of the Association of Banks in Lebanon, senior representatives of some banking institutions, the chairman of the Banking Control Commission, the governor of the Central Bank and the Central Bank. Prime Minister of Lebanon. It calls on all depositors to be “fair and fair”.

The diplomat believes that “this unfortunate situation is a symptom of Lebanon’s failing economy”.

“Since the start of the economic crisis, the UK has joined its international partners in calling on the Lebanese government to implement much-needed and needed economic reforms. Without such reforms, the Lebanese economy would be in a state of disrepair with all bank depositors in Lebanon. -will continue its free fall with dire consequences for Lebanese citizens in general and others living in Lebanon,” the statement continued.

The English Diplomatic Representation provides its citizens on its website with a list of English-speaking legal representatives in Lebanon.

On the Lebanese side, the Chairman of the Banking Commission and Governor of the Central Bank, Riyad Salame, who has since been accused of embezzlement, assures that “measures are being actively considered for the proper protection of all concerned depositors”. “.

Many local banks are the subject of complaints in the United States, Great Britain or even Europe.

A French court had already ordered a payment of $2.8 million to Banke Sardar, while the SGBL, following an amicable process, had reimbursed the amount of $20 million after a French court ordered the institution and its managers. The property in France was frozen.

The 9th Chamber of the Paris Judicial Court also decided on 19 November to reimburse all amounts deposited by a Syrian citizen – the equivalent of 2.5 million euros – who have been residing in France for 45 years by the Banque chieftain, failing which On the property of establishments in France can be confiscated.

Thus, if the normal procedure regarding the refusal of Lebanese banks to honor these bank checks locally or abroad is confirmed, an appeal should be submitted to the central bank, the supervisory body of the region.

Although he is also the subject of several legal investigations opened against him, the governor of the Banque du Liban Riyadh Salame is known for his closeness to the interests of Lebanese banks.

Thus far, the governor of the Banque du Liban has not taken any coercive action against Lebanese banks, which has led many depositors to support procedures overseas and not locally.

Faced with these risks, local legislators are looking to adopt new texts offering discounts to local banks and their managers. However, this immunity could not be upheld overseas, leading to a possible confiscation of the assets of the bank and even their leaders, some of whom – in this case 6 establishments – were also accused of embezzling large sums of money. and is accused of participating in money laundering. Governor of Banque du Liban with reference to the Forie Associates case.

Furthermore, this refusal by Lebanese banks – which are already considered to be in a state of selective default by rating agencies since the introduction of informal capital controls in November 2019 – to move the funds of these depositors would certainly lead to default. situation can motivate. The latter and thus cut off Lebanon from the international financial system, which would cut off all contact with them, including the Banque du Lebanon, leaving the Land of the Cedars going through a financial crisis that was already a major crisis. .

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