Lebanon judge lifts travel ban on two senior bankers

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Beirut – A Lebanese judge on Tuesday lifted travel bans imposed last month on two senior Lebanese bankers as part of an ongoing probe into transactions between commercial banks and the central bank, the judge told Reuters.

Judge Ghada Aoun said she lifted the travel bans on Blom Bank head Saad Azhari and Bank Audi boss Samir Hanna to facilitate their return to Lebanon from abroad so they could attend hearings as part of the investigation.

Aoun had imposed travel bans and asset freezes in mid-March against the senior management of five banks as part of the probe into loans given by the central bank to commercial banks at the onset of Lebanon’s 2019 financial meltdown.

The measures affected the heads of Bank of Beirut, SGBL and Bankmed, in addition to Blom Bank and Bank Audi.

She has not charged any of the parties with any crime and has not set a date for any hearings.

A spokesperson for Bank Audi confirmed the travel ban had been lifted but said that “there was no prevention at any time for Mr Samir Hanna to come back to the country.”

Azhari declined to comment.

Lebanon’s banks association has said Aoun’s measures against their institutions were “illegal” and would further destabilize the country’s banking system, already crippled by a financial meltdown that has seen most depositors locked out of their hard currency accounts.

Aoun says her moves are in line with Lebanese laws.

Reuters

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