Parliament approves law extending lifting of banking secrecy

Parliament has approved the extension of a law that lifts banking secrecy on public accounts, as part of a bid to facilitate forensic audits on Lebanon’s Central Bank.

The extension was brought into discussion during today’s session by Free Patriotic Movement MP and head of Parliament’s Finance and Budget Committee Ibrahim Kanaan, who requested its addition at the start of the session.

The forensic audit of Lebanon’s central bank is a necessary condition for obtaining foreign aid and securing a financial bailout to aid the country during its crisis.

The Lebanese government signed a second contract with Alvarez & Marsal to audit the central bank’s accounts in September 2021, but the audit remains incomplete.

The firm had previously canceled the government’s first contract in November 2020 due to lack of cooperation on behalf of the bank, which failed to provide the necessary documents. The audit has not yet begun for lack of cooperation.

In 2020, Parliament approved a law that lifted banking secrecy on the bank’s accounts for one year, allowing the firm to investigate possible financial fraud within the bank’s accounts. The year expired as of December 29, therefore leading to its extension now until the audit is complete.

Parliament was set to reconvene tomorrow, but today’s session ended early due to lack of quorum and prompted the cancellation of Tuesday’s session.