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Former Lebanese ambassador holds Beirut bank sit-in amid new wave of robberies | CNN




CNN

A former Lebanese ambassador staged a sit-in at his bank outside the capital city of Beirut on Tuesday and refused to leave until he received his money, his wife told CNN.

Georges Siam’s bank is one of four branches across Lebanon that were raided by depositors demanding their savings on Tuesday.

According to his wife, Siam, who was a former Lebanese ambassador to Qatar, Turkey, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates and is currently Irish honorary consul in Lebanon, refuses to leave the bank. in Hamzieh after the branch refused to give the diplomat the usual amount he withdraws every month.

“It’s our money and we don’t need to beg for it,” Golda Siam said, adding that her husband was unarmed and peaceful.

Last month, Siam declared his support for his compatriot Sali Hafizwho robbed a bank with a toy gun.

“We need more of that. The lady is a hero,” he said. tweeted at the time.

Two other men robbed banks in Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley and Tire on Tuesday, demanding their own savings be returned to them, in what has become a symbol of the dire living conditions taking hold in the crisis. Lebanese financial Two of the men used weapons and took hostages.

A fourth bank was also held up in Tripoli on Tuesday by a group of disgruntled power company employees protesting back wages and pay cuts, according to the advocacy group Depositors Outcry Association.

Across Lebanon, bank accounts have been frozen for more than two years as banks imposed capital controls amid the country’s mounting economic troubles.

Increasingly desperate depositors in the country have responded by raiding bank branches in a series of attempts to extract their funds. After a series of robberies last month, Lebanon’s interior minister accused some groups of organizing illegal actions and destabilizing national security.

The Association of Banks of Lebanon (ABL) closed all institutions for a week after the September 16 incidents and reopened branches for business transactions only 10 days later.

Banks are bearing the “burden” of a systemic crisis created by the Lebanese government and its Central Bank, ABL said in a statement on Tuesday.

The ABL also accused the Lebanese government of turning the people against the banks, warning that the country’s currency could one day collapse to the point where money will be weighed instead of counted, adding that at that time , “the hope of recovering the deposits will vanish”.

The Lebanese parliament has been working on a formal capital control law to stabilize the country’s finances, but passage of the bill has stalled.

Among the planned reforms, the government also announced that it would start adjusting its official exchange rate in early November, in the hope of increasing foreign exchange reserves. The change is part of a set of conditions established by the International Monetary Fund for a loan to help the country’s economies.

Demanding more security for bank employees, the Lebanon Bank Employees Union has called a sit-in protest on October 12.





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