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Lebanese banks to offer 2,600 pounds to dollar for small accounts: Report

Lebanese banks are to apply an exchange rate of 2,600 pounds per dollar for withdrawals from small accounts of up to five million Lebanese pounds ($3,300), a central bank source said on Monday, in the implementation of a new circular issued on Friday.

Lebanon is still applying an official peg of 1,507.5 pounds to the dollar for bank transactions and critical imports, the governor said on Friday.

The circular issued on Friday said deposits of $3,000 or less could be withdrawn in Lebanese pounds at a “market” rate, allowing small depositors to cash out despite tight banking controls. 

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It also allowed for the paying out of deposits of five million Lebanese pounds ($3,300) or less.

A senior banking source told Reuters the new rate would be fixed on a weekly basis and had this week been fixed at the 2,600 rate.

Last month, Lebanon declared it could no longer pay its hefty foreign debt and launched talks with creditors.

The currency has slumped since October, after capital inflows dried up and protests erupted against the ruling elite.

Authorities sought in recent weeks to enforce a rate of 2,000 pounds per dollar on the parallel market, now people’s main source of cash. However, traders still sold dollars at higher rates, with some shutting down.

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