Lebanon to decide on circular regulating bank-customer relationships

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The Lebanese government has received a central bank circular aimed at regulating relationships between banks and their customers and will study and decide on it within days, Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni told broadcaster LBC on Saturday.

Lebanese banks, seeking to prevent capital flight, have been tightly controlling access to deposits and blocking most transfers abroad since October, when anti-government protests brought an economic crisis to a head.

The authorities have not, however, introduced formal capital controls regulating these measures.

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Central bank governor Riad Salameh last month requested exceptional powers from the caretaker administration that was in office at the time with the aim of standardizing the measures to ensure all customers were treated fairly.

Salameh told LBC on Saturday a circular regulating the relationship between customers and banks had been submitted to the new Prime Minister Hassan Diab and Wazni 10 days ago.

If they agreed to it, the circular “would not include any exceptional measures,” Salameh told LBC.

“Operations will continue in the banks as usual,” he said. The aim was for “equal and fair treatment among all customers.”

Wazni confirmed the circular had been received. “We will study it and decide on the matter within days,” he told LBC.

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