UPDATE 1-Lebanon c.bank asked banks to review transfers by public servants -circularReuters | Beirut | Updated: 16-01-2020 19:54 IST | Created: 16-01-2020 19:41 IST
Lebanon's central bank has asked banks to review transfers of funds abroad by politicians and government employees between Oct. 17 and Dec. 31, when anti-government protests led banks to enforce informal capital controls that blocked transfers abroad.
A Jan. 9 circular from the central bank's anti-money-laundering unit asked banks to identify the source of funds deposited in overseas accounts and to report any suspicious activity involving such accounts. The circular, seen by Reuters on Thursday, asked the banks to comply by Jan. 31.
The central bank did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A separate circular dated Jan. 14 from Lebanon's banking control commission asked banks for the dates and sizes of transfers to Switzerland since Oct. 17, without asking for the names of the customers who made the transfers.
Banks should provide the information within a week, it said. Lebanon is mired in a long-brewing economic crisis that snowballed last year as hard currency inflows slowed down, leading to a shortage of dollars needed to finance the state's deficit and import needs.
Seeking to prevent capital flight, banks have been imposing tight controls on access to cash and transfers abroad since the crisis accelerated in October with the onset of the protests. Anger at the banks fuelled violent protests in Beirut on Tuesday during which a number of banks were vandalized.