Five Lebanese banks were held up by depositors seeking access to their own money frozen in the banking system on Friday, in a spiralling spate of holdups this week spurred by frustration over a financial implosion with no end in sight.
Seven banks have been held up since Wednesday in Lebanon, where commercial banks have locked most depositors out of their savings since an economic crisis took hold three years ago, leaving much of the population unable to pay for basics.
On Friday morning, an armed man identified as Abed Soubra entered BLOM Bank in the capital’s Tariq Jdideh neighbourhood demanding his deposit, the bank told Reuters.
He later handed his gun to security forces but remained locked in the bank past sunset, negotiating with bank officials to withdraw his $300,000 in savings in cash, he told Reuters.
Soubra eventually left the bank with no money as part of a settlement negotiated by an influential sheikh, local media reported. He was not taken into custody.
Throughout the day, he had been cheered on by a large crowd of people gathered outside, including Bassam al-Sheikh Hussein, who carried out a hold-up in August to get his own deposits from his bank, which dropped charges against him.
“We’re going to keep seeing this happen as long as people have money inside. What do you want them to do? They don’t have another solution,” said Hussein.