Woman who robbed bank to get her own money out on bail in Lebanon

A Lebanese woman who last month robbed a bank from Beirut to recover her own savings was released on bail on Thursday after turning herself in to authorities after weeks on the run, her lawyer said.

A Sali Hafiz28, was ordered to pay 1 million Lebanese pounds (500 pesos) and was given a six-month travel ban for the bank robbery of September 14 that made her a popular heroine in a country where hundreds of thousands of people have savings trapped in banks.

Sali Hafiz claimed that the money was intended to pay for the treatment of her sister who has cancer.

Lebanon’s informal capital controls were implemented by banks in 2019 when the Finance system it imploded and was never formalized into law, leading depositors fed up with the arbitrary measures to take matters into their own hands.

More than a dozen depositors have robbed banks to access their own savings in the last month alone. Most of them have only faced brief detention, but Hafiz’s case differs as He fled.

Banks say they make exceptions for humanitarian cases and have called on the government to pass formal checks and work to resolve the crisis.

Lenders closed for about a week last month after a series of delays. They have since reopened with increased security, but frustrated savers They have shown no signs of loosening.

On Wednesday, Lebanese lawmaker Cynthia Zarazir staged a protest at her bank branch north of Beirut to retrieve 8,500 Lebanese pounds trapped in the bank that she said she needed for surgery.

Such actions have received widespread popular support as government authorities fail to address the crisis by slowly implementing the reforms needed to unlock a IMF bailout.

Hafiz managed to recover almost 12,000 Lebanese pounds from his account when he entered the bank and threatened the employees with what later turned out to be a fake gun. (rts)