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Meet the Bank Robbers of Beirut | NYT Opinion

VideosMeet the Bank Robbers of Beirut | NYT Opinion

A wave of armed bank robberies has been sweeping Lebanon amid its economic meltdown. But the heists have followed a highly unusual pattern: The robbers are the banks’ clients, and the money they have been demanding is the contents of their own accounts.

These thieves have been driven to such extraordinary lengths to get their savings because banks have imposed strict withdrawal limits to avoid collapse.

In the Opinion video above, Sali Hafiz, a Lebanese interior designer, describes how a health crisis in her family drove her to take up arms — actually, a toy pistol — and withdraw her money by force. But the film also argues that the true thieves are not citizens like Ms. Hafiz who are trying to get their hard-earned savings but, rather, corrupt financial and political leaders who have helped to run the economy into the ground.

Prosecutors from five European countries have been investigating Riad Salameh, the governor of Lebanon’s central bank, who has been accused of laundering public money in Europe. And last Thursday, The Associated Press reported, Lebanese prosecutors charged Mr. Salameh, his brother and an associate with embezzlement, forgery, money laundering, illicit enrichment and tax law violations.

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