Bank Accounts Changes

Based on the tables issued by the Banking Supervision Committee, which include the numbers of customers and the value of the deposits they own in the Lebanese pounds and foreign currencies at the end of the years 2018 and 2019, and the end of February 2020, we discover that 98885 accounts were closed in a period of one year and two months permanently. It is also clear that the largest segment that was affected by a decrease in the number of accounts was in account holders whose value ranged between 5 million and 30 million Lebanese pounds (about 122,000 accounts closed: either by decreasing the value of their deposits to less than 5 million pounds - 36600 accounts - or they were fully closed).

The figures also indicate the exit of about 21 billion and three hundred million US dollars (16 billion of which are in the Lebanese currency and five billion and 300 million in foreign currencies).

In a closer look at the numbers that were divided according to the size of the accounts into two categories - the first for accounts that are less than 1,500 million Lebanese pounds (or one million dollars) and those that exceed this amount -, it clearly appears that the five billion dollars of foreign currencies that were withdrawn are entirely from the accounts that exceed one million US dollars, as the withdrawals amounted to about thirteen billion dollars. The increase of eight billion in accounts that have less than one million US dollars is a direct result of those withdrawals that led to a decrease in the value of the accounts owned. It is also clear that what amounted to 6.4 billion dollars in Lebanese pounds were withdrawn from accounts that exceed one million dollars, compared to a withdrawal equivalent to 9.5 billion dollars (in Lebanese pounds) from accounts that have less than a million dollars.

In a greater scrutiny of these numbers, the accounts that have less than 100 thousand US Dollars in witnessed withdrawals that did not exceed $1.8 billion in the local currency, while 7 times that amount ($ 14 billion) were withdrawn from accounts that exceed the value of one hundred thousand US dollars . Also, the value of withdrawals in them did not exceed $100 million in foreign currencies, while 50 times more that amount ($ 5 billion) were withdrawn from accounts that exceeded one hundred thousand dollars.

These numbers are an important document that illustrates the inability of the Lebanese banking system, with the knowledge of the political authority (specifically the Ministry of Finance), as well as the Bank of Lebanon and the Lebanese banks to stop the exit of hard currencies for high account holders, especially those that exceed one million dollars. The figures show that less than 1% of the depositors, who owned 52% of the value of all assets (at the end of 2018), were able to withdraw 13.6 billion dollars in foreign currencies and 6.4 billion in Lebanese pounds (which converted the share of this 1% to 45% of all assets); while holders of deposits with less than a hundred thousand dollars, who represent 92% of all depositors and who do not own more than 18% of total deposits (at the end of 2018), were only able to withdraw 1.8 billion dollars in local and foreign currencies. This is the bare truth in real figures of the banking transactions that took place during 2019 and in the first two months of 2020 and with the coverage of the political, financial and banking system in Lebanon.