Billions in bank funds take flight from Syria

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Close to 100 billion Syrian pounds (Dh6.41bn), almost a third of all funds on deposit, has left the Syrian banking system since the conflict began last year, The National can reveal.

“We are in the danger zone, but it could get much worse,” said an official at the country’s stock-market in Damascus. “The crisis in Syria is very similar to that in Egypt, although it is a much smaller economy,” added the official, who asked to remain nameless for fear of reprisals from the regime of Bashar Al Assad, the president.

According to the latest financial accounts from Syria’s 14 listed banks, 95.6bn pounds has left the country’s crippled banking system in the past year – 27.6 per cent of all funds on deposit. At the end of 2010 the banks had 442bn pounds on deposit. A year later that total had diminished to 346.4bn.

Most of the funds are believed to have left the country destined for banks around the Gulf region and in Europe.

The latest third-quarter financial statements show the customer base for Lebanon’s Bank Audi subsidiary declined to 56.5bn pounds, compared with 82.1bn pounds for the same period a year earlier. Banque Bemo Saudi Fransisuffered a 44 per cent decline in its book as depositors started withdrawing money from their bank accounts and smuggling it to overseas banks in Lebanon and the wider Gulf region. Bank of Syria and Overseas has suffered a 33.6 per cent drop in customer deposits.

Syria’s benchmark Damascus Securities Exchange General Index, which comprises mostly banks and insurance companies, lost 50 per cent of its value last year to 863.37 points. The Egyptian Exchange, which closed for three weeks during the height of the Arab Spring, plunged 45 per cent last year.

“A closure of the [Syrian] stock market would be disastrous for the economy,” the bourse official said. The exchange has reduced its trading sessions to three days a week from five days a week prior to the unrest. The maximum price floor was lowered to 2 per cent, from 5 per cent.

“Businesses in dire need of cash who invested in the equities can’t liquidate their positions, because there is no market for it, and the currency puts them at a double loss,” said “Abdul” the chief executive of a firm in Syria’s once-thriving services sector. “The impact of the slowdown is seen in the layoffs taking place in major manufacturers and industrial companies and many high-profile business entities have defaulted already.”

The country’s economic output fell by 3.6 per cent last year, according to IHS Global Insight. It expects the economy to rebound by only 1.5 per cent this year.

The government’s response to the unrest by rolling back recently planned fiscal reforms may also be creating problems for the economy, said IHS. Since last year, Mr Al Assad has pushed through income tax cuts, fuel subsidy increases for public sector workers and a 50 per cent rise in the minimum wage to try to quell unrest.

“These measures mark a stark U-turn from recent years of reform and will serve to increase domestic inflationary pressures, significantly increase the fiscal deficit and discourage job growth,” IHS analysts wrote in a report released last week.

Syria’s 14 private lenders, considered the crown jewels of Mr Al Assad’s economic modernisation plan, are also struggling with a mismatch of assets and liabilities following a 50 per cent decline in the value for the country’s currency last year amid a violent crackdown spurred by civil unrest.

A US dollar is now worth 57.3pounds, compared with 47 pounds before the unrest began in March last year, according to the official rate. But the black-market puts the dollar at 71 liras, the Syrian term for the pound, according to exchange dealers. Foreign exchange reserves have fallen from US$19.5bn (Dh71.62bn) before the unrest to less than $14bn at the end of last year.

Sanctions imposed by the Arab League, Turkey, the EU and the US have cut Syria’s links to the global economy. The EU on Friday said it was considering extending the ban to encompass a freeze on the Syrian central bank’s assets.

The names of all people quoted in this story have been withheld for their protection.

The National

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73 responses to “Billions in bank funds take flight from Syria”

  1. 5thDrawer Avatar

    Difficult to run a business in a war-zone, especially when they are killing the workers and bombing all the buildings.
    Insurance companies don’t pay out on that stuff either … hard enough to get money out of them normally. The money-movers move the money fast as possible when they see trouble coming .. I’m sure most of it left early last year. By this time, a low-end citizen going in to ask for his money probably gets grilled.
    Hmmm … anyone investing in Iran?

    1. dabshaleem Avatar

      onli salafites moneyse left syri mr yu wahabi mr

      1. dont you know other misspelled word salafist for god sake change this boring word i know that you are ignorant but have some subject involved:(

        1. r yu salafite or zioniste mr? yu mosadist nu goud wahabi 🙂

        2. oh debelhish is that new misspelled ignorat subjet keep on the hard work ass hole!!
          and by the way you are looser in faqihi toilet school class

        3. dabshaleem Avatar

          yu muste be salafists mr

      2. dont you know other misspelled word salafist for god sake change this boring word i know that you are ignorant but have some subject involved:(

      3. dab, u speek gud me  think shur he saudi salafi no gud suni,u rite this iz fon

        1. 5thDrawer Avatar

          My belly-laugh for the night. :-)))  Love this site.

        2. prophettt Avatar

          lol geo, that was very close. You could have fooled me for a second.

        3. prophet, 5th got a laugh,you got fooled for a second but yaz bought into it  completly and now i am on his sh*t list,,,,either way i am damned so i might as well have some fun. 🙂

          for what its worth my wife was not spared either, i have been asking her all weekend if she is a salafite or a zionist,, i think my parrots are starting to catch on and will soon be joining  dabs mission   lol.

        4. prophettt Avatar

          Geo, Please have a much fun as you can, I might as well pick up dab’s language.It’s stress free,and  requires no accountability.I had a good laugh too, but I was laughing at myself for being fooled before I realized it was dab’s clone of the night talking.lol
          I’m not being asked By mine if I was any of those, but rather already accused of all of the them and more.lol.

        5. geo you fooled me man thats why you called your self geometro
          anyway it was funny mate:)

      4. dab, u speek gud me  think shur he saudi salafi no gud suni,u rite this iz fon

        1. 5thDrawer Avatar

          My belly-laugh for the night. :-)))  Love this site.

        2. prophettt Avatar

          lol geo, that was very close. You could have fooled me for a second.

        3. prophet, 5th got a laugh,you got fooled for a second but yaz bought into it  completly and now i am on his sh*t list,,,,either way i am damned so i might as well have some fun. 🙂

          for what its worth my wife was not spared either, i have been asking her all weekend if she is a salafite or a zionist,, i think my parrots are starting to catch on and will soon be joining  dabs mission   lol.

        4. prophettt Avatar

          Geo, Please have a much fun as you can, I might as well pick up dab’s language.It’s stress free,and  requires no accountability.I had a good laugh too, but I was laughing at myself for being fooled before I realized it was dab’s clone of the night talking.lol
          I’m not being asked By mine if I was any of those, but rather already accused of all of the them and more.lol.

        5. geo you fooled me man thats why you called your self geometro
          anyway it was funny mate:)

      5. now that salafi moneyse left may be shi3i money leav too then all money go to wahabi banco in sodi but no farsi shi3i becos boom boom nukes hit fars land soon and all moneyse go by by. you farsi mr?

        1. 5thDrawer Avatar

          ys mr and whaaabbank ilk monees 2 i take al to stor

        2. dabshaleem Avatar

          yu speaked goood englize mr som wordes i no undstand mr

        3. @dabshaleem:disqus  dab, get yourself a dabictionary… lol

        4. 5thDrawer Avatar

          Dab. I c yu r triing ( I see you are trying)
          … I c u do wordes by eer ( I see you do words by ear)
          … and I think yu speek and right same way ( and I think you speak and write the same way)
          Plz find goood book 4 tourist 2 undstand (please find a good book for a tourist to understand)
          … whut way yu speak all the time (your language)
          … and also englize ‘word book’. ( and also ‘english dictionary’.)
          Forget salafites and wahabis and others 4 a time. Read and read and read.
          Come back to say:
           ” Hi. How are you?”   We’ll be waiting. 🙂

        5. prophettt Avatar

          5th, Thanks for the instant translation services,lol

        6. 5thDrawer Avatar

          Well Prophet … it’s too hard to figure out his philosophy with only a few lines of general accusation for some sects. I really think he wants to understand more, and he takes the shots at him fairly well and keeps returning – sometimes in a rather humble way admitting his lack of english. I’d like to help him a little … maybe at some point we can figure out what he is really trying to say from his soul … and then, if we don’t like it, he will know. 🙂

      6. now that salafi moneyse left may be shi3i money leav too then all money go to wahabi banco in sodi but no farsi shi3i becos boom boom nukes hit fars land soon and all moneyse go by by. you farsi mr?

        1. 5thDrawer Avatar

          ys mr and whaaabbank ilk monees 2 i take al to stor

        2. @dabshaleem:disqus  dab, get yourself a dabictionary… lol

        3. 5thDrawer Avatar

          Dab. I c yu r triing ( I see you are trying)
          … I c u do wordes by eer ( I see you do words by ear)
          … and I think yu speek and right same way ( and I think you speak and write the same way)
          Plz find goood book 4 tourist 2 undstand (please find a good book for a tourist to understand)
          … whut way yu speak all the time (your language)
          … and also englize ‘word book’. ( and also ‘english dictionary’.)
          Forget salafites and wahabis and others 4 a time. Read and read and read.
          Come back to say:
           ” Hi. How are you?”   We’ll be waiting. 🙂

        4. prophettt Avatar

          5th, Thanks for the instant translation services,lol

        5. 5thDrawer Avatar

          Well Prophet … it’s too hard to figure out his philosophy with only a few lines of general accusation for some sects. I really think he wants to understand more, and he takes the shots at him fairly well and keeps returning – sometimes in a rather humble way admitting his lack of english. I’d like to help him a little … maybe at some point we can figure out what he is really trying to say from his soul … and then, if we don’t like it, he will know. 🙂

  2. 5thDrawer Avatar

    Difficult to run a business in a war-zone, especially when they are killing the workers and bombing all the buildings.
    Insurance companies don’t pay out on that stuff either … hard enough to get money out of them normally. The money-movers move the money fast as possible when they see trouble coming .. I’m sure most of it left early last year. By this time, a low-end citizen going in to ask for his money probably gets grilled.
    Hmmm … anyone investing in Iran?

  3.  Avatar

    Difficult to run a business in a war-zone, especially when they are killing the workers and bombing all the buildings.
    Insurance companies don’t pay out on that stuff either … hard enough to get money out of them normally. The money-movers move the money fast as possible when they see trouble coming .. I’m sure most of it left early last year. By this time, a low-end citizen going in to ask for his money probably gets grilled.
    Hmmm … anyone investing in Iran?

    1.  Avatar

      onli salafites moneyse left syri mr yu wahabi mr

      1.  Avatar

        dont you know other misspelled word salafist for god sake change this boring word i know that you are ignorant but have some subject involved:(

        1. r yu salafite or zioniste mr? yu mosadist nu goud wahabi 🙂

        2.  Avatar

          oh is that new misspelled ignorat subjet keep on the hard work ass hole!!

        3.  Avatar

          yu muste be salafists mr

      2. dab, u speek gud me  think shur he saudi salafi no gud suni,u rite this iz fon

        1.  Avatar

          My belly-laugh for the night. :-)))  Love this site.

        2.  Avatar

          lol geo, that was very close. You could have fooled me for a second.

        3. prophet, 5th got a laugh,you got fooled for a second but yaz bought into it  completly and now i am on his sh*t list,,,,either way i am damned so i might as well have some fun. 🙂

          for what its worth my wife was not spared either, i have been asking her all weekend if she is a salafite or a zionist,, i think my parrots are starting to catch on and will soon be joining  dabs mission   lol.

        4.  Avatar

          Geo, Please have a much fun as you can, I might as well pick up dab’s language.It’s stress free,and  requires no accountability.I had a good laugh too, but I was laughing at myself for being fooled before I realized it was dab’s clone of the night talking.lol
          I’m not being asked By mine if I was any of those, but rather already accused of all of the above.lol.

        5.  Avatar

          geo you fooled me man thats way you called your self geometro
          anyway it was funny mate:)

      3. now that salafi moneyse left may be shi3i money leav too then all money go to wahabi banco in sodi but no farsi shi3i becos boom boom nukes hit fars land soon and all moneyse go by by. you farsi mr?

        1.  Avatar

          ys mr and whaaabbank ilk monees 2 i take al to stor

        2.  Avatar

          yu speaked goood englize mr som wordes i no undstand mr

        3. @dabshaleem:disqus  dab, get yourself a dabictionary… lol

        4.  Avatar

          Dab. I c yu r triing ( I see you are trying)
          … I c u do wordes by eer ( I see you do words by ear)
          … and I think yu speek and right same way ( and I think you speak and write the same way)
          Plz find goood book 4 tourist 2 undstand (please find a good book for a tourist to understand)
          … what way yu speak all the time (your language)
          … and also englize ‘word book’. ( and also ‘english dictionary’.)
          Forget salafites and wahabis and others 4 a time. Read and read and read.
          Come back to say:
           ” Hi. How are you?”   We’ll be waiting. 🙂

        5.  Avatar

          5th, Thanks for the instant translation services,lol

        6.  Avatar

          Well Prophet … it’s too hard to figure out his philosophy with only a few lines of general accusation for some sects. I really think he wants to understand more, and he takes the shots at him fairly well and keeps returning – sometimes in a rather humble way admitting his lack of english. I’d like to help him a little … maybe at some point we can figure out what he is really trying to say from his soul … and then, if we don’t like it, he will know. 🙂

  4. yazidi, if  i am forgiven may i ask what kind of bird is in the picture by your user name, i am the biggest  bird lover

    1. its from finch family and its called european goldfinches known in the middle east as hasson. cheers

      1. dabshaleem Avatar

        yu r goood mr yu like hasson ha laedre

        1. yes hasson is an animal its correct !!

      2. lol you just insulted the bird…

        1. yes but its for the sake of moqawashit

        2. mr  Yu wahabi or zioniste  hasoon bird iz gooood boom boom yu salafite 🙂 ,,,sorry i cant stop hannibal  its contageous i got dababietes

  5. yazidi, if  i am forgiven may i ask what kind of bird is in the picture by your user name, i am the biggest  bird lover

    1. its from finch family and its called european goldfinches known in the middle east as hasson. cheers

      1. dabshaleem Avatar

        yu r goood mr yu like hasson ha laedre

        1. yes hasson is an animal its correct !!

      2. lol you just insulted the bird…

        1. yes but its for the sake of moqawashit

        2. mr  Yu wahabi or zioniste  hasoon bird iz gooood boom boom yu salafite 🙂 ,,,sorry i cant stop hannibal  its contageous i got dababietes

  6. yazidi, if  i am forgiven may i ask what kind of bird is in the picture by your user name, i am the biggest  bird lover

    1.  Avatar

      its from finch family and its called european goldfinches known in the middle east as hasson. cheers

      1.  Avatar

        yu r goood mr yu like hasson ha laedre

        1.  Avatar

          yes hasson is an animal its correct !!

      2. lol you just insulted the bird…

        1.  Avatar

          yes but its for the sake of moqawashit

        2. mr  Yu wahabi or zioniste  hasoon bird iz gooood boom boom yu salafite 🙂 ,,,sorry i cant stop hannibal  its contageous i got dababietes

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