Syrian President Bashar al Assad said billions of dollars of deposits held by his countrymen in Lebanon’s financial sector that were blocked after a major financial crisis were a main cause of Syria’s deepening economic crisis.Lebanese banks, fearing capital flight and grappling with an acute hard currency crunch, have since last year imposed tight controls on withdrawals and transfers abroad, drawing outrage from local and foreign depositors unable to access their savings.
Assad said anywhere from $20 billion to $42 billion of Syrian deposits could have been lost in the once vibrant banking sector that held over $170 billion in foreign currency deposits.
“This figure for an economy like Syria is terrifying,” he said.
“It’s the money they put in Lebanese banks and we paid the price this is the core of the problem that no one talks about,” Assad added, speaking during a tour of a trade fair broadcast on state media.
Syrian businessmen say Lebanon’s tight controls on withdrawals have locked hundreds of millions of dollars once used to import basic goods from oil to commodities into Syria.
Many Syrian front companies had also long circumvented Western sanctions by using Lebanon’s banking system to import illicit goods into Syria by land, bankers and businessmen say.
Source: National News Agency