Lebanese financial prosecutor freezes assets, properties of 20 banks

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Lebanon’s financial prosecutor has frozen the assets of 20 Lebanese banks, their top bosses and board members, state media and judicial sources said on Thursday.

Judge Ali Ibrahim gave notice to the central bank and the country’s banking association, state news agency NNA said without naming the banks.

Lebanon is facing unprecedented economic and financial strains, which came to a head last year as capital inflows slowed and protests erupted against a ruling elite accused of plunging the country into crisis.

The heavily indebted state is contending with a weakening Lebanese pound, soaring inflation and a severe dollar shortage that has hit imports.

The financial prosecutor did not respond immediately to request for comment.

Separately, Lebanon’s cabinet approved a draft law to lift banking secrecy, Justice Minister Marie Claude Najm said on Thursday.

Public anger has also been directed at Lebanese banks, which have curbed people’s access to their savings and blocked transfers abroad. The head of the banking association has said the steps seek to keep Lebanon’s wealth in the country.

Lebanon’s domestic banks, which for years funneled deposits to the state, hold the bulk of the sovereign debt.

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