He ‘robbed’ his financial institution to get his personal a reimbursement

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You could or could not have noticed this headline and, even in case you did, you may need thought ah nicely, it’s Lebanon. I’ve been to Lebanon and might say it’s a unbelievable nation full of wonderful historical past. Certain, it has its troubles, and people troubles have escalated in current instances, however it’s a nation that has a banking system, similar as yours and mine. Besides when issues go downhill, the banking system breaks down. That is the explanation why many international locations which have unstable governments or unstable economies have switched to cryptocurrencies and bitcoin (not that that’s steady).

Why am I running a blog about this? As a result of the story intrigued me.

The story is a couple of espresso store proprietor who, earlier than all of the troubles began, was fairly rich. Then, in 2019, Lebanon entered the worst monetary and financial disaster in its historical past, that has sunk the as soon as middle-class nation into poverty.

The disaster is rooted in years of political corruption and mismanagement. Lebanon is operating out of international reserves and has progressively lifted subsidies on important items, together with gasoline and medicines.

However, in case you have been a Lebanese, what does that imply in actuality? Nicely, it implies that you discover your wealth has greater than halved in simply eighteen months. That’s shocking as, after I was there, Lebanon ran a twin system of currencies: the Lebanese pound and the US greenback. The whole lot was pegged to the greenback and US {dollars} have been accessible at ATMs and for fee in all shops. That was meant to supply stability and surety, but it surely stopped when the disaster hit and that is the place the problems come up as a result of, in late 2019, Lebanese banks stopped giving {dollars} to depositors and as an alternative enable withdrawals solely in Lebanese kilos – at present at a fee about 65 per cent decrease than the market fee.

In different phrases, in case you had $1,000 within the financial institution in 2019, you’d now get Lebanese kilos solely with a discount of worth of 65 p.c or extra, and a point-blank refusal to return your authentic investments and holdings. In different phrases, the banking system has damaged down underneath an financial crash led by authorities corruption.

After all, this might by no means occur in your nation, wouldn’t it? However what if it did? What would you do?

Abdallah Assaii, a 37-year-old Lebanese espresso store proprietor, robbed the financial institution to get his a reimbursement. It was his cash, so was he actually robbing the financial institution? Did he rob the financial institution or did he simply make a declare for what’s rightfully his?

The incident occurred at a department of Lebanese financial institution BBAC within the city of Jeb Jannine, within the Bekaa Valley, on January 18. Abdallah entered the financial institution department and held seven financial institution workers hostage for 4 hours till they paid him his $50,000 US {dollars} in money. The financial institution claims that Mr Assaii held a gun to the top of one of many financial institution employees, had explosives in his bag and sprayed petrol on the workers and on the ground, threatening to gentle a cigarette. Mr Assaii’s lawyer claims there was no risk and that he saved the gun in his bag and apologised to employees when the confrontation ended.

Both approach, chances are you’ll assume his motion a tad excessive, however is he proper or mistaken? Some say he’s a hero while others say he’s a felony. However, in case you had USD$50,000 within the financial institution and so they stated they may offer you nearly nothing in change, would you be pleased with the belief you had in your financial institution?

“Abdallah managed to do what no one might do in all of Lebanon,” stated Abed Nabha, an NGO employee from Mr Assaii’s residence city. “He didn’t steal the cash. It was his”. His case “issues to each single particular person, together with myself”, stated activist Yassine Yassine from Ghazzeh, a city near Kefraya. “They’re holding all people’s cash.”

A vital level right here is that because the nation’s economic system and governance broke down, the banks behaved badly.

In November 2019, Lebanese banks imposed capital controls as {dollars} dried up. This was by no means authorized by Parliament, and protracted rumours in Lebanese media declare that well-connected shoppers despatched tens of millions of {dollars} overseas, whereas Lebanese with extra modest deposits noticed the worth of their financial savings plummet. Within the absence of parliamentary oversight, the Banque du Liban central financial institution has issued circulars proscribing withdrawals and transfers in a foreign country from banks, each in Lebanese kilos and US {dollars}.

“The whole lot that has occurred to date are actions from the central financial institution that don’t have any authorized basis,” stated Nasser Saidi, a former Lebanese economic system minister and first vice governor of the central financial institution. “Courts refuse to sue banks which were delinquent in fee. The judicial system is not unbiased. It’s a part of the political course of”.

Fortunately, as a put up observe to the siege, Mr Assaii was arrested and is at present being held by authorities, however not earlier than he managed to get the money into the fingers of his spouse, who was ready exterior and is now on the run.

Lastly, why am I posting this right here?

I suppose as a result of there are numerous nations with unstable economies and authorities. Nonetheless, the entire basis of banking is that they’re good for the cash. When international locations breakdown and the wealthy run off with the cash resulting from political and financial institution favours and affiliations, leaving the widespread individuals in a poverty lure, I might hail individuals like Mr Assaii as extra a hero than a villain. Oh, and advocate his spouse places the cash into crypto.

Only a thought.

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