In Lebanon, People Are Holding Up Banks to Access Their Own Money
September 21, 2022 10:12 PM   Subscribe

Is it really a crime if it’s your own money? In Lebanon, the lira has lost 90% of its value even as the price of everything soars with global inflation. As a result, banks have frozen their customers assets, only allowing them to withdraw a small amount each month in US dollars or local currency. Fed up, ordinary citizens are holding up banks in order to withdraw money to support their families or pay for loved ones’ medical care. posted by toastyk (20 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Middle East is teetering, and there is wild news out of Iran, 6 days of "regime change strength, protests," and communications lockdown. There is some enormous pressure on the area, and I wish the Lebanese people well.
posted by Oyéah at 11:05 PM on September 21 [10 favorites]


Banks have responded by locking customers out from their money, allowing them to withdraw a paltry amount in US dollars each month or more in local currency.

Maybe the Lebanese banks are feeling jealous of the crypto rug pullers...
posted by chavenet at 12:48 AM on September 22


Is it really a crime if it’s your own money?

It's always been our own money.
posted by srboisvert at 3:04 AM on September 22 [9 favorites]




Lebanese banks to remain shut indefinitely after economic crisis.. Apparently the easiest way to deal with this is to just close the banks so no one can hold them up.
posted by Hactar at 5:58 AM on September 22


It still might be traumatic for the bank staff if violence is threatened.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 6:30 AM on September 22 [6 favorites]


Well, yes, it's the employees who are put in the line of fire... by the banks' policies.
posted by tigrrrlily at 6:56 AM on September 22 [4 favorites]


I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that, even as people are prevented from retrieving their own money, the bank's owners and uppermost managers are still drawing their full paychecks, because priorities. Am I right or am I wrong?
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:23 AM on September 22 [7 favorites]


Turkey is under stress too; 80% y-o-y inflation currently and their Lira down 80% in 5 years.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 7:53 AM on September 22


Say what you like about Erdogan, he made the banks run on time.
posted by flabdablet at 8:16 AM on September 22 [8 favorites]


Am I right or am I wrong?

There are societies where the elites retain legitimacy by enduring austere measures along with the commoners (or at least make a credible show of it), because the people view it as toughness. And there are those where the elites would lose legitimacy by acting that way, because it's viewed as weakness.

The Middle East mostly leans in the latter direction.
posted by ocschwar at 9:00 AM on September 22 [2 favorites]


I’m not a Lebanese legal expert, but I’m pretty sure they have some kind of law that legislates against threat to life, or attempted robbery.

The real question is, why are the Lebanese people being forced to suffer this way? The answer seems to be “elements of the ruling classes were making lots of money and so therefore did not insist on structural change”.
posted by The River Ivel at 9:12 AM on September 22 [3 favorites]


I think people gotta do what they gotta do & God bless them for keeping themselves alive the best they can.
posted by bleep at 11:09 AM on September 22 [1 favorite]


I’m not a Lebanese legal expert, but I’m pretty sure they have some kind of law that legislates against threat to life, or attempted robbery.

I think the question is whether it can be considered attempted robbery if you already have ownership of the property you're expropriating.
posted by Dysk at 8:02 PM on September 22 [4 favorites]


I think the question is whether it can be considered attempted robbery if you already have ownership of the property you're expropriating.

Of course it is if you have handed your property over to an intermediary. Think if you put something in a locker at a bus station. Do you think you should be able to threaten the bus staff with a gun or vandalize the locker to get your stuff back? I would guess that most would not, except under extreme circumstances. Then you might still expect some retribution, just not proportionate to a normal scenario.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:59 AM on September 23


Think if you put something in a locker at a bus station.

but this analogy completely erases context

setting aside the incredibly powerful emotions elicited by money/finances on the best of days I can absolutely see how a person would show up with a gun to demand the funds they'd deposited, under the described circumstances.
posted by elkevelvet at 9:30 AM on September 23 [1 favorite]


except under extreme circumstances

it sounds like the circumstances are pretty intense right now?
posted by supermedusa at 9:45 AM on September 23 [3 favorites]


Turkey is under stress too; 80% y-o-y inflation currently and their Lira down 80% in 5 years.

Turkey is in the unique situation of Erdogan insisting on interest rate cuts to fight inflation. For comparison the US Federal Reserve is raising rates, and the difference in outcomes should be sobering, if not at all surprising.

I've heard less about the Lebanon situation, but beyond the corruption in government, the food situation is pretty dire. While they have more water than you's expect looking at Google maps, the population is high enough that they still import food, to the tune of about 20 percent of total imports. Worse, the ANFO explosion in Beirut damaged the only grain storage in the country, so they have basically no ability to smooth out supply shortages.
posted by pwnguin at 11:54 AM on September 23


The circumstances are indeed very extreme in Lebanon at the moment, indeed life or death—is best (and considerate) to not speculate about the "middle east" in general, nor posit how the situation relates, somehow, to lockers at a bus station
posted by Ahmad Khani at 12:13 PM on September 23 [2 favorites]


Of course it is if you have handed your property over to an intermediary. Think if you put something in a locker at a bus station. Do you think you should be able to threaten the bus staff with a gun or vandalize the locker to get your stuff back?

No, the threatening with a gun is certainly illegal in itself, but it's is not clear that the crime in question is robbery which requires you to take someone else's property. Not saying it isn't a crime, just saying it isn't theft.
posted by Dysk at 1:11 AM on September 24 [1 favorite]


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