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Lebanon: Judiciary Continues to Chase Manipulators of Currency Exchange Rate

Lebanon: Judiciary Continues to Chase Manipulators of Currency Exchange Rate

Tuesday, 17 March, 2020 - 13:45
Closed entrance of the Association of Banks in Lebanon in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, October 25, 2019. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

Judicial and security authorities in Lebanon have intensified their procedures to prosecute money changers, who are not abiding by the rate set by the Central Bank that is LBP 2,000.

The Financial Crime Bureau is chasing money changers and working to arrest all violators under the directives of the competent judiciary.

On Monday, Financial Prosecutor Judge Ali Ibrahim filed lawsuits against four recently arrested money changers, and referred them to the investigating judge in Beirut, asking for the issuance of arrest warrants against them.

A judicial source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the prosecutions would “affect every exchange office or financial institution that violates the monetary and credit law, and manipulates exchange rates, which harms the value of the national currency.”

Meanwhile, sources with knowledge of the matter told Asharq Al-Awsat that a plan was underway to reduce constraints on USD withdrawals from banks.

The sources, which participated in the recent meeting between State Prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat and the Lebanese Banks Association, noted that a circular could be issued by the Central Bank, “for banks to approve the exchange of the dollar against LBP 2000, instead of the official price set at LBP 1515.”

In a clear translation of the pledge that the Association of Banks signed with Judges Oueidat and Ali Ibrahim, the banks have eased transfers in foreign currency abroad under specific conditions, allowing – to a certain extent - depositors to pay tuition fees for their children outside Lebanon, pay taxes and hospitalization, and open credits to purchase food and medical supplies.

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