UK Embassy in Lebanon ‘deeply concerned’ over closure of bank accounts

As an international law firm announced a British court ruling in favor of a depositor against two Lebanese banks, the British embassy in Beirut said on Friday it was “deeply concerned” with closing the accounts of banks belonging to those concerned” who are citizens or residents of the country. United Kingdom.

In a complaint against Lebanese banks, Bank Audi and SGBL, the British High Court previously ruled in favor of a Lebanese-British businessman, Vache Manoukian, for refusing to execute requests to transfer money abroad from Lebanon in 2019 Was.

A British court ruling of 28 February required Bank Audi and its affiliate SGBL to transfer $4 million to a customer, the first British rule to require Lebanese banks to transfer dollars outside the banking system, which was similar. Shows actions.

Law firm Brian Cave Leighton Passiner LLP, which represents Mr Manoukian, announced on Friday that the court had issued its “fully reasoned decision” in the case, favoring the associate. The law firm described the decision as an “unprecedented decision as it is the first fully rational decision in any jurisdiction on international transfer rights of bank customers under Lebanese law”.

Also on Friday, the British embassy in Lebanon said the banks’ “unilateral action” appears to be targeting account holders based on their British residency or nationality “in a targeted and discriminatory manner.”

The statement did not name lenders in Lebanon’s troubled banking sector, where more than $100 billion in hard-currency savings are trapped, with most depositors unable to access their funds.

A group of savers says more than 50 British savers have been approached because their accounts have been unilaterally closed or fear they will be closed, as a UK court on February 28 transferred money to two Lebanese banks. was ordered to do. To Manoukian.

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Lebanon’s financial system collapsed in 2019 under the burden of massive public debt caused by decades of corruption, ruin and patronage by the government, which borrowed heavily from Lebanese banks. In the absence of any capital control laws in Lebanon, banks began imposing informal restrictions on withdrawals and transfers abroad in 2019 when the financial system collapsed. These controls were never formalized into law and were challenged in local and international courts. mixed results. In Lebanon too, there is a legal tussle between banks and depositors looking for cash. And, in response, according to depositors’ lawyers, more and more banks closed accounts and issued checks for balances without consulting customers.

British Ambassador Ian Collard urged “Lebanese authorities to ensure that all depositors are treated fairly and fairly, and he stressed the importance for Lebanese banks not to discriminate against account holders on the basis of their British nationality or residence.” Insisted”. The statement said that in meetings with officials including the central bank’s governor and the prime minister, he “clearly expressed his concerns about the treatment of UK national depositors and UK residents”.

As an international law firm announced a British court ruling in favor of a depositor against two Lebanese banks, the British embassy in Beirut said on Friday it was “deeply concerned” with closing the accounts of banks belonging to those concerned” who are citizens or residents of the country. United Kingdom. High …

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