Mount Lebanon Prosecutor Ghada Aoun lifted, on Tuesday, the travel ban imposed on two Lebanese bankers.
The travel ban was imposed as a part of an ongoing investigation into transactions between Lebanese commercial banks and Lebanon’s Central Bank (BDL).
Judge Ghada Aoun said she lifted the travel bans on Saad Azhari, the head of Blom Bank, and Bank Audi’s Samir Hanna, to facilitate their return to Lebanon, and attend the hearings.
Judge Aoun had ordered travel bans and asset freezes against the chiefs of five banks after investigations reportedly showed transactions between these banks and BDL since the economic crisis began.
These banks were reportedly transferring abroad the money of Lebanese politicians while imposing an informal capital control on the people.
The judicial measures affected the heads of Bank of Beirut, SGBL, Bankmed, Blom Bank, and Bank Audi.
However, Judge Aoun has not yet charged any of them with any crime to date and has not set a date for hearings.
A bank Audi spokesperson said that the travel ban had been lifted yet “there was no prevention at any time for Mr. Samir Hanna to come back to the country.”
The Lebanese Banks Association had argued that Judge Aoun’s measures against these banks were “illegal” and could destabilize the country’s banking system. The Association went then on a two-day strike to challenge these “pressuring measures”.
The consequences of the crippling status of the Lebanese economy and currency have led to an alarming increase in poverty, hunger, and inflation, and affected most sectors in the country.
Money of depositors has been locked in banks ever since the capital control, with people allowed only drops and crumbs, and many unable to make transfers of their own money.
That has been the case with Lebanese and non-Lebanese depositors, and members of the Lebanese diaspora, who has to helplessly watch their life savings and income vanish as the Lebanese Pound collapsed.
There have been also cases of local rents deposited in banks not being transferred since 2019 to the Lebanese landlords living abroad.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese politicians and bankers don’t appear to be affected by the harsh reality that the Lebanese working class is barely enduring.