Lebanese woman who stole her own savings on the run
STORY: Lebanese interior designer Sali Hafiz has been on the run from authorities since she forced a bank to release her family’s savings at gunpoint. cancer. Hafiz spoke to Reuters from Lebanon’s rugged eastern Bekaa Valley, where she has been hiding. intending to use it, but when I saw the operation fail, that they noticed the man and began to push him, I remembered, used it and began to throw gasoline. Of course, the bank manager – who the day before showed up and did not pay attention to me – started telling me ‘whatever you want’ because nothing works but like this… If you’re not a wolf, the wolves will eat you. sister’s account by force, with what later turned out to be a toy gun. It had been frozen by capital controls imposed overnight by commercial banks in 2019. They were never made legal via legislation. To help her escape, Hafiz posted on Facebook that she was already at the airport and on her way to Istanbul. She ran home, disguised herself in a cloak and headscarf and placed a bundle of clothes on her stomach to make her appear pregnant, before she managed to escape police officers. hundreds of thousands are barred from their savings. Irritated by a three-year financial crisis, a growing number of people are taking matters into their own hands. Hafiz was the first of at least seven savers to hold up banks last week. The series of raids has been met with widespread support, with crowds even gathering to cheer outside banks when they hear a stop is taking place. Some banks have closed their doors citing security concerns and asked for support from the government. Authorities have condemned the holdups and say they are drawing up a security plan for banks. And the bank workers’ union said the holdups were misguided anger that should be directed at the Lebanese state, which was most to blame for the crisis. But depositors such as Hafiz claim that bank owners and shareholders have enriched themselves by getting high interest rates to lend the government money – and prioritize the banks over people. “Do not think that senior government officials in Lebanon do not have interests in the banks. They are all in cahoots to steal from us and let us starve and die slowly.” The government says it is working hard to implement reforms and aims to secure a major bailout this year. Lebanon’s internal security forces did not respond to a request for comment on the matter. BLOM Bank said the branch had been cooperative with Hafiz’s request for funds. But asked for documentation, as they do for all customers requesting humanitarian exemptions, for the informal checks. Hafiz says she will turn herself in when judges end a crippling strike that has slowed legal proceedings and left prisoners languishing in jail.