Assad blames Lebanese banking system for loss of millions of dollars deposited by Syrian people
Syrian President Bashar al Assad blamed Lebanese banking systems’ current restrictions which made many Syrians lose access to their money deposited in them. Syria, which is combating political and economic crisis for years, have been slapped fresh sanctions by the US government in opposition to Assad’s dictatorial rule.
Speaking at a trade fair broadcast on state media, Assad said that his countrymen lost. somewhere between $20 billion to $42 billion of their deposits in Lebanon’s banks, which at one point had a vibrant banking sector and held over $170 billion in foreign currency deposits. Lebanese crumbling economy had a ripple effect on Syria but impact on Damascus intensified with new restrictions and sanctions. Syrian businessmen used to use the money put in Lebanese bank to import various commodities in Syria ranging from oil to basic necessity goods, which were otherwise banned.
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Syrian President told reporters, “This figure for an economy like Syria is terrifying… It’s the money they put in Lebanese banks and we paid the price this is the core of the problem that no one talks about.” “The crisis began before the Caesar Act and years after long-imposed Western sanctions … It’s the money (in Lebanese banks) that has been lost,” Assad added.
Last month, Lebanese banks froze accounts of Syrians linked to Assad’s regime in order to avoid inviting wrath from US, which off late imposed strictest sanctions on the Syria. US imposed Caesar act on Syria government on June 17 in response to the war crimes conducted by Assad’s regime on Syrian population.
US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Levant Affairs and Special Envoy for Syria, Joel Rayburn, warned Lebanon against helping Syrians with monetary transactions especially the ones who were close to Assad and benefitted from his rule. Rayburn threatened that Washington could also roll in Beirut in the preview of new sanctions if latter helped Assad’s Syria and violated the terms of the act.