Lebanese woman who stole own savings from bank says she’s not the criminal

On the run from authorities after forcing a financial institution to launch her household financial savings at gunpoint to deal with her cancer-stricken sister, 28-year-old Lebanese inside designer Sali Hafiz insists she just isn’t the legal.

“We’re within the nation of mafias. If you’re not a wolf, the wolves will eat you,” she advised Reuters, standing on a dust observe someplace in Lebanon’s rugged jap Bekaa valley the place she has since been in hiding.

Hafiz held up a Beirut department of BLOM Financial institution final week, taking by drive some $13,000 US in financial savings in her sister’s account frozen by capital controls that have been imposed in a single day by industrial banks in 2019 however by no means made authorized through laws.

Dramatic footage of the incident, through which she cocks what later turned out to be a toy gun and stands atop a desk bossing round staff who hand her wads of money, turned her into an instantaneous people hero in a rustic the place a whole lot of hundreds of individuals are locked out of their financial savings.

A lady, who was recognized as Hafiz, is seen carrying what gave the impression to be a gun at a BLOM Financial institution department in Beirut on this screengrab taken from Al Jadeed footage on Sept. 14. (Al Jadeed/Reuters)

A rising quantity are taking issues into their very own palms, exasperated by a three-year monetary implosion that authorities have left to fester — main the World Financial institution to explain it as “orchestrated by the nation’s elite.”

Hafiz was the primary of at the least seven savers who held up banks final week, prompting banks to close their doorways citing safety considerations and name for safety help from the federal government.

George Haj of the financial institution staff syndicate mentioned the holdups have been misguiding anger that ought to be directed on the Lebanese state, which was most in charge for the disaster, and famous some 6,000 financial institution staff had misplaced their jobs because it started.

Authorities have condemned the holdups and say they’re getting ready a safety plan for banks.

However depositors argue that financial institution homeowners and shareholders have enriched themselves by getting excessive curiosity funds for lending the federal government depositors’ cash and are prioritizing the banks over folks relatively than enacting an IMF rescue plan.

The federal government says it’s working exhausting to implement IMF reforms and goals to safe a $3 billion US bailout this 12 months.

‘They’re all in cahoots’

The raids have been met with widespread help, together with from crowds that collect exterior the banks once they hear a holdup is happening to cheer them on.

“Perhaps they noticed me as a hero as a result of I used to be the primary girl who does this in a patriarchal society the place a girl’s voice just isn’t alleged to be heard,” Hafiz mentioned, including she had not supposed to hurt anybody however was bored with authorities inaction.

“They’re all in cahoots to steal from us and depart us to go hungry and die slowly.”

When her sister started shedding hope she would be capable to afford pricey therapy to assist regain mobility and speech impaired by mind most cancers, and the financial institution declined to offer the financial savings, Hafiz mentioned she determined to behave.

BLOM Financial institution mentioned in a press release that the department had been co-operative together with her request for funds however requested for documentation as they do for all prospects requesting humanitarian exceptions to the casual controls.

Hafiz then returned two days later with a toy gun she had seen her nephews taking part in with, and a small quantity of gas that she combined with water and spilled on to an worker.

George Haj, head of the financial institution staff syndicate, gestures as he speaks throughout an interview in Beirut on Tuesday. (Emilie Madi/Reuters)

She managed to get $13,000 of a complete $20,000 — sufficient to cowl journey bills for her sister and a couple of month of therapy — and made certain to signal a receipt in order that she wouldn’t be accused of theft.

In disguise

To help her escape, Hafiz posted on Fb that she was already on the airport and on her technique to Istanbul. She ran dwelling and disguised herself in a gown and scarf and positioned a bundle of garments on her stomach to make herself seem pregnant.

A police officer who knocked on her door “will need to have been scared I might give start in entrance of him. I went downstairs in entrance of all of them, like 60 or 70 folks … they have been wishing me luck with the start. It was … like the flicks,” she mentioned, after they failed to acknowledge her.

Hafiz mentioned she would hand herself in as soon as judges finish a crippling strike that has slowed authorized procedures and left detainees languishing in jail.

Latest news
Related news