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Lebanese Prosecutor Overturns Decision Barring Banks from Shipping Money

Lebanese Prosecutor Overturns Decision Barring Banks from Shipping Money

Monday, 28 March, 2022 - 17:00
A woman uses a Blom Bank ATM machine in Beirut, Lebanon March 18, 2022. Picture taken March 18, 2022. (Reuters)

Lebanon's top prosecutor on Monday overturned a judicial decision that last week instructed customs authorities to prevent six banks from moving money out of the country, a senior judicial source told Reuters.

Last week's decision by Judge Ghada Aoun prompted the banking association to warn that the banks - including some of Lebanon's biggest - would be cut off from their correspondents abroad, saying this would prevent trade.

Judge Aoun's decision applied to Bank Audi, Bank of Beirut, Creditbank, SGBL, Blom Bank and Bankmed - all of which had their assets frozen in separate judicial actions by Judge Aoun this month as she investigates transactions by the six lenders.

She has also banned the heads of their boards from travel.

She has not charged any of the parties mentioned with any crime.

In Monday's ruling, public prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat reversed Judge Aoun's decision, the source said.

Banks last week staged a two-day strike in protest against what they called arbitrary judicial decisions.

The banking system has been paralyzed with most depositors frozen out of US dollar accounts since Lebanon's financial system collapsed in 2019, one of the world's sharpest ever economic meltdowns.

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