A video of the chairman of the Association of Banks in Lebanon, Salim Sfeir, saying that Lebanese bankers lost more than depositors, surged the internet, triggering a wave of anger from the people.
In the video, he is heard saying: “To all the depositors who are scared of losing their life savings., just like it is theirs, it is also our life savings… Each body in the banking sector lost more than any other depositor, we lost many times over.”
The statement fueled the people with anger, notably among the Lebanese Twitter users deeming it absurd and hypocritical since the people are the ones who lost the most.
Twitter user Khodr Hammoud retorted, “This is ridiculous! Someone tell him about management and accountability! It was their job to take care of our money and they lost it! So excuse us if we’re not very saddened by your losses and we wish you more losses for the rest of your days.”
A Lebanese by the name of Nada Kanaan Boulos responded by uploading an image alleged to be of Salim Sfeir’s net worth, commenting that with such net worth “it’s best to stay quiet”:
“Salim Sfeir, president of the Association of Banks who stole people’s money, is crying over his savings and the lifetime of the banks and bankers. They came out here the last victims,” commented Twitter user Lina Zhaim.
It is not new in Lebanon that those responsible for a mess or misgovernance claim to be victims or even the main victims, issuing misleading speeches or statements to incite people’s sympathy.
And some, not a few, believe them. But, in this case, the pain and frustration of the people have been unbearable, experiencing the lockdown of their savings by the banks since late 2019 while the value of the local currency, hence their savings, crumpled.
This crisis did not only affect depositors. It has also affected the Lebanese private university students, who are now protesting against the dollarization of their tuition fees, fearing losing their only chance for a better future.
Many Lebanese expats have also been impacted, whether students relying on their parents in Lebanon to provide for their education and stay abroad or those who were relying on their savings to pay their rents in their host countries.