Lebanon's central bank to stop bank withdrawals from dollar accounts at low fixed rate

FILE PHOTO: The Banque du Liban, the central bank of Lebanon, is seen as protests against the government continue in Beirut, Lebanon January 14, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s Central Bank said on Wednesday it would stop letting depositors withdraw money from dollar accounts at a fixed rate of 3,900 pounds per dollar, a rate far worse than on the black market but the only way many Lebanese had been able to access their funds.

Lebanese banks have mostly locked depositors out of their dollar accounts and blocked transfers abroad. Under a central bank circular last year, depositors were permitted to withdraw dollars, with the funds paid in the local currency at a rate of 3,900 pounds to the dollar. That is only around a third of the value of dollars on the black market.

The Central Bank statement did not make it clear if an alternative system would be introduced to allow access to dollars in accounts.

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