The headquarters of the Association of Banks in Lebanon (ABL). Photo Credit: NNA.
The headquarters of the Association of Banks in Lebanon (ABL). Photo Credit: NNA.

Judge Amani Salamé decided to freeze the assets of banks and their leaders, following a complaint filed by a civil society collective entitled “The people want to reform the regime”

This complaint was filed on behalf of the Lebanese depositors. The authors accuse all local banks of breach of trust, negligence, fraudulent bankruptcy, money transfer fraud, damage to the financial reputation of the state, money laundering, enrichment illegal and violation of the constitution guaranteeing private property.

The names of people included in this complaint should be disclosed

This decision was immediately welcomed by the prosecutor of Mount Lebanon, Judge Ghada Aoun on Twitter.

“I am with the free judges against those who target them from inside and outside the judiciary. I am with the revolution in clean hands. I am with you and I am proud of it.”
Ghada Aoun, April 28, 2021

A decision that is not a first

A similar decision was adopted last year in an investigation into the illegal transfer of funds abroad by the financial prosecutor, Judge Ali Ibrahim; who then reconsidered it at the request of the public prosecutor, Judge Ghassan Oweidat. Indeed, the leaders of the banks had then threatened a general strike of indefinite duration until the cancellation of this measure.

Judge Ali Ibrahim believed that local banks had committed serious violations of Lebanon’s financial laws against their clients by unilaterally establishing, following a decision of the Association of Banks of Lebanon (ABL) and not of the supervisory authorities, that is to say of the Banque du Liban (BDL) or the Ministry of Finance, a capital control. These asset freezing measures were aimed in particular at the managers and owners, but also at the members of the boards of directors of these financial institutions.

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri – whose prosecutor Ghassan Oweidat is considered close -, whose relatives own Bank Med, denounced this measure described as populist and having political objectives. These measures also targeted high personalities and some close to the majority of the current parties within the majority or the opposition.

Among the banks concerned at the time, Banque Audi, Banque du Liban et d’Outre-Mer (BLOM Bank), FransaBank, Byblos Bank, Société Générale de Banque du Liban (SGBL), Bank of Beirut (BOB), Bank Med, Banque Libano-Française (BLF), Crédit Libanais, Banque intercontinentale, First National Bank, Lebanon & Gulf Bank, Bank of Beirut and the Arab Countries sal (BBAC), Banque Du Moyen Orient Et De L’Afrique, CEDRUS Bank, Federal Bank of Lebanon, New Bank of Syria and Lebanon, Banque Libano-Suisse, Bank Misr, Saradar Bank and Bank el Mawarid

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