Lebanese lawmaker enters financial institution department to demand frozen financial savings By Reuters

By Maya Gebeily

(Reuters) -A Lebanese member of parliament entered a department of Byblos Financial institution north of Beirut on Wednesday with a gaggle of associates to demand entry to her frozen financial savings to pay for surgical procedure.

Cynthia Zarazir, a first-time parliamentarian who was elected in Might to characterize Beirut, entered the financial institution unarmed and demanded $8,500 in money, she informed Reuters.

“We have spent a couple of days going forwards and backwards to the financial institution and bringing my (medical) reviews and so they do not reply us. I am unable to delay this any extra. I got here to take my cash,” Zarazir stated by phone from the financial institution.

“At this time, I got here as a daily citizen, not as an MP. I do not care what my colleagues within the parliament will suppose. I see proper from flawed,” she stated.

Instances of financial institution hold-ups and protests have snowballed throughout Lebanon just lately as depositors have grown exasperated over casual capital controls that banks have imposed since an financial downturn started in 2019.

Depositors can solely withdraw restricted quantities in U.S. {dollars} or the Lebanese pound, which has misplaced greater than 95% of its worth for the reason that disaster started.

The financial institution department shut down after Zarazir entered and a spokesperson for Byblos Financial institution at its headquarters was not instantly accessible for remark.

Zarazir stated she had rejected a suggestion from the financial institution to withdraw an infinite quantity in Lebanese kilos at a fee of 8,000 kilos to the greenback – which might characterize a roughly 80% haircut on the worth of her funds.

“She has not damaged the regulation in any method. She went into her financial institution to ask for her cash. She did not even shut the financial institution down – the administration did that,” stated Fouad Debs, her lawyer and a founding father of the Depositors’ Union advocacy group.

He accompanied Zarazir and spoke to Reuters from the financial institution, saying the sit-in would proceed till the lawmaker had entry to her funds.

Tuesday noticed 4 hold-ups throughout Lebanon, two of them involving armed males demanding their deposits.

One other incident passed off on Monday.

Individually, an unidentified assailant fired photographs at a Beirut Financial institution department within the northern city of Byblos on Wednesday, a safety supply stated.

There have been no accidents and the assailant fled, the supply stated.

Lebanon’s banking affiliation has expressed outrage over the hold-ups. The same surge final month prompted banks to shut for a couple of week.

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