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Lebanon: Mikati Says Wants to Protect Small Depositors Not Banks

Lebanon: Mikati Says Wants to Protect Small Depositors Not Banks

Saturday, 19 March, 2022 - 12:15
Prime Minister Najib Mikati speaks to reports at Baabda Palace. AP file photo

Lebanon's prime minister said on Saturday after a cabinet meeting convened to address judicial actions against seven banks that the goal was to protect small depositors not lenders.

"We are protecting institutions, not individuals," Najib Mikati told a news conference, Reuters reported.

Lebanese banks plan a two-day strike next week in protest at judicial moves against seven major lenders, a standoff that could bring more instability for a country mired in a financial crisis since 2019.

The banking association said the strike was a warning against what it called "the arbitrariness of some judicial decisions" - a reference to orders that have frozen the assets of seven banks since March 14 and banned six of their executives from travel.

Lebanon's banks have been paralyzed since the financial system collapsed in 2019 under the weight of huge public debts caused by decades of state corruption and waste, locking depositors out of their savings. It is Lebanon's most destabilizing crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.

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