Lebanon This Week reported that the seven Lebanese banks operating in
However, when the depreciation of the pound over the last year is taken into consideration, this rise in assets evaporates. Under the current official exchange rate, the 400.4 billion pounds of assets are currently worth
One banker told
"They [banks] just calculated the assets based on the dollar rates in the market. This way, the assets will look bigger than they are actually are," the banker said.
The Syrian pound has depreciated significantly against foreign currencies since the conflict there broke out three years ago.
The official rate of the pound, set by the
In pound terms, the
However, profits at the banks' Syrian operations drastically grew in 2013.
"The substantial rise in net income is due to a significant increase in the unrealized net foreign exchange gains on structural positions," the report explained.
The aggregate net profits of the seven banks reached 3.4 billion pounds in 2013 compared to 36.8 million pounds the previous year. At the prevailing currency rates for each year, the aggregate net profits grew from around
"The branches of the Lebanese banks are open to the clients in areas which are not witnessing fighting like
"But the branches in areas that are the scene of heavy clashes have closed or been damaged."
He added that Lebanese and foreign banks were not granting loans or offering lines of credit to merchants and clients: "These branches only deal with customers who still have bank accounts."
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