The Central Bank of Lebanon is expected to issue a new circular next week that introduces new restrictions on banks with respect to opening new, “fresh” U.S. dollar accounts, Al-Akhbar newspaper reported.
The anticipated circular will prevent banks from opening new U.S. dollar accounts if they’re unable to secure their equivalent in dollars at overseas correspondent banks, according to the newspaper
In other words, any bank that intends to receive a fresh-dollar deposit must be able to back it up with an equivalent amount at a correspondent bank abroad.
For instance, if a customer wanted to open a fresh funds account with a $10,000 deposit, the bank receiving the deposit would have to either transfer the deposit itself directly to its account at the correspondent bank, or keep the $10,000 in a local account and separately deposit the same amount at the correspondent bank.
The decision was reportedly reached during a meeting of the Banque du Liban’s Central Council on Wednesday and will be released officially at the beginning of next week.
The new measure, Al-Akhbar quotes Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh as saying, is “the only solution to restore people’s trust in the banking sector,” as he regards it as a way to guarantee that people can access their dollars anytime they want.
However, through this and some of the previous measures, Salameh also intends to deliver a message to correspondent banks — “a positive message” indicating the presence of enough dollars to cover transfers and commercial operations, as per the newspaper.