BEIRUT: A judge has ordered Bank Byblos to release a depositor's funds in their entirety, marking the first ruling of the such since Lebanese commercial banks began implementing informal capital controls.
Ahmad Mezher, a judge in Nabatiyeh, ordered the Nabatiyeh branch of Byblos Bank to release EUR 129,000 that a company had deposited in a current account.
The judge ordered the bank to pay in cash or any other method of the depositor's choosing.
The bank had refused to release the funds as demanded by the depositor, citing the "extraordinary measures" Lebanon is currently facing, which the judge had found to be "illegal."
Failing to release the funds would result in the bank incurring 20 million Lebanese pounds in damages daily.
Banks have clamped limits on withdrawals of U.S. dollars as the Central Bank’s sources for dollars continue to wane, further exacerbated by a popular uprising broke out more than a month ago.
Politicians are paralyzed, struggling to form a new government in the face of tens of thousands of protesters in the streets for the past month in an unprecedented uprising demanding the entire leadership go.
A similar lawsuit has been filed in Beirut against the Association of Banks, its head Salim Sfeir, and member banks of the association.
-- WIth AP
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