US calls for investigation into abuse of Lebanon’s banking system by elite
The financial collapse of Lebanon resulted in the shuttering of many depositors and the loss of more than 90% of the value of the local currency. According to a draft plan to fix a huge hole in the financial system, only $25 billion, out of a total of $104 billion, is slated to be returned to US savers in hard currency.
The US Treasury delegation urged Lebanese authorities to investigate alleged abuses of the Lebanese banking system by members of the political and economic class. As part of a three-day visit to Beirut by a senior delegation, an unusually candid statement was issued, but it failed to specify exactly which members of the elite it was referring to in a country where corruption and abuse of power are endemic.
Financial misconduct allegations by elites surged in 2019, following the collapse of the country’s financial system. The banks restricted access to hard currency accounts for most savers, but some people with influence had more freedom. The financial institutions dispute these claims. According to the statement, the delegation emphasized the need to investigate these violations seriously, particularly by Banque du Liban and Special Investigation Commission, the central bank and investigative unit set up to examine illicit financial activities.
United States government development agency USAID reports that the U.S. government is Lebanon’s single largest donor, giving more than $370 million in humanitarian aid in 2021 alone. Lebanese depositors, especially those with relatively small accounts, should receive maximum returns from the government’s financial recovery plan, the Treasury said.