On Friday, the governor of Lebanon’s Central Bank (BDL) told Egypt’s Middle East News Agency that BDL had an estimated value of $17.5 billion (286 tonnes) of gold reserves at the end of February.
According to the report, Riad Salameh highlighted that Lebanon’s gold reserves amount to the 2nd largest held in the region.
His statement comes after the Lebanese Deputy Prime Minister, Saadeh Al-Shami, commented last week that BDL and the Lebanese state are bankrupt.
Salameh responded denying the claims. He stated that despite the losses affecting the Lebanese economy, “the Central Bank still exercises the role entrusted to it under Article 70 of the Code of Money and Credit, and will continue to do so.”
On the ground, the reality has been different for the Lebanese people and foreign depositors in Lebanese banks.
The enforced capital control has been detrimental to the people, who have found themselves with little ownership right to their money in banks and how they can use it.
According to Al-Shami, the losses will be incurred by the Lebanese state, the Central Bank, and the banks’ depositors.
The governor of the Central Bank, who himself is under investigation and charges of illegal enrichment, might boast about the gold reserves, but this hasn’t been helping Lebanon out of its crises, nor the people suffering the dire consequences.
According to Bloomberg on October 2021, Lebanon’s debts “include $32 billion in international bonds and what amounts to $58 billion in local currency notes at the official exchange rate (now worth a fraction of that on the black market).”