An unarmed man stormed a bank in Beirut and came away with about $11,000 of his trapped savings on Monday, only days after banks in Lebanon reopened with enhanced security.
The depositor entered the Blom Bank branch in Haret Hreik, a southern suburb of Beirut, with three accomplices.
The incident was confirmed by a security source who spoke to The National.
Lebanon’s National News Agency reported that four people “stormed” the bank. The Association of Depositors in Lebanon said the group was able to escape before the army arrived at the scene.
Banks in Lebanon closed their doors last month after at least seven branches were raided by depositors in one week, including five in a day.
Some — but not all — branches reopened last Monday with enhanced security measures and scaled-down operations. Most have allowed only customers who have an appointment, with a handful permitting walk-ins.
The closures came “after the repeated attacks on banks and the physical assaults on bank employees and their dignity”, the Association of Banks in Lebanon said.
The strike had initially been planned for only three days, but was extended to a week due to an “absence of any procedures or even assurances” from the government and security forces that would ensure a safe working environment.
Banks imposed informal capital controls in 2019, severely restricting access to hard currency and compounding the economic difficulties faced by people in Lebanon.
An economic collapse that first became apparent in 2019, described by the World Bank as one of the worst in modern history, has pushed most of Lebanon into poverty. The local currency has plummeted in value by more than 95 per cent.
There are severe shortages of basic essentials including bread, electricity, medicine and water.
The situation has forced some desperate depositors to take matters into their hands, with many in Lebanon praising their actions.