Lebanon’s banks to remain shut

Lebanon’s banks are set to remain shut indefinitely, the country’s banking association said in a statement on Wednesday, citing ongoing “the continued risks to bank employees and customers inside branches, and in light of the ongoing atmosphere of incitement” to employees following a spree of bank stick-ups last week.

Banks were meant to reopen on Thursday following a three-day shutdown announced last week, when a total of seven banks were held up by depositors seeking access to their own savings.

The country’s banking sector has frozen deposits for over two years as well as enacting limits on how much money people can withdraw, at a time when three-quarters of the population has been plunged into poverty.

In what has been termed a ‘copycat’ incident, Sali Hafez stormed into a branch of Blom Bank in Beirut with a realistic looking firearm and a group of activists last week. They were protesting against currency controls imposed due to the national financial crisis. This marked the second hostage situation at a Lebanese bank in weeks.