Lebanon’s Prosecutor Just Froze the Assets of 20 Banks and their Board of Directors

One of the revolution’s main demands since the beginning on October 17th, 2019, was the lifting of bank secrecy for the assets of prominent politicians.

Protesters believe that such an initiative will bring transparency and, therefore, hold the corrupt politicians in office accountable for the wasteful spending that they have engaged in at the expense of the public.

On Thursday, March 5th, Justice Minister Marie-Claude Najem announced that Lebanon’s cabinet has just approved a draft law that lifts banking secrecy. 

The judiciary went into action quickly as prosecutor Judge Ali Ibrahim ordered the freezing of the assets of 20 banks, as well as their chiefs and members of the boards of directors.

There is doubt that this law is going to win over protesters that have been calling for corrupt politicians to be held into account.

The reason for this is that Lebanon’s judiciary has a proven track record of being beholden to political interests.

A group called Coffee and Politics has been holding talks during the revolution to allow people to better understand the way that the current political system functions by inviting a number of figures who are experienced in the subject. 

On February 6th, they invited the former head of the Supreme Judicial Council Judge Jean Fahd to give a talk about the need for the independence of the judiciary.

Lebanon Minister of Justice – Photo: Libanews

In this talk, Judge Fahd said that the judiciary must prioritize the issue of independence to build a better society run by the rule of law.

He further explained that the judiciary is currently being run by executive and political actors. He offered a number of solutions to this problem.

One of the proposed solutions was to help coordinate and facilitate communication between the Ministry of Justice and the judiciary in a manner that serves the interests of both parties.

From their side, the Banks in Lebanon launched a hard strike back against Lebanese officials, holding them accountable for the economic crisis of which they accuse the banks.

They sharply criticized Lebanese politicians for their evasion tactics and attitude towards banks: “…Enough of the lying, forgery, fraud, and slander!”

For more about what the banks had to say, visit here.

Update: The political reactions in regards to the Financial Prosecutor’s decision to freeze the assets of these 20 banks had been intense. Later in the evening, the Attorney General of Cassation, Judge Ouaidat, went on to suspend the controversial decision until further notice.