Berri: $Billions sent abroad must be returned

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Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said on Wednesday that the caretaker cabinet should have convened amid the dangerous and extraordinary circumstances in the country.

“The situation is very dangerous and we don’t have the luxury of time,” Berri said during his weekly Ain el-Tineh meeting with MPs, wondering why the caretaker cabinet “has not performed its duties.”

“Don’t the circumstances require the convening of the cabinet to run the affairs of the country and its citizens instead of leaving them suspended?” Berri added.

He called for “the return to Lebanon of the funds that were sent abroad ,” noting that they are worth “billions of dollars.”

“The economic and financial situations can improve once a new government is formed,” he claimed.

Lebanon is witnessing the worst financial crisis in decades with unprecedented capital controls, and as tempers flare, there are real concerns the country could be sliding toward a prolonged period of instability.

“We are standing before two dangers that are racing with each other, the danger of financial collapse and the danger of security collapse. It is an unprecedented situation,” said Nabil Bou Monsef, deputy editor-in-chief of the An-Nahar newspaper.

Berri also heads up the Amal movement , a close ally of Hezbollah. Amal and Hezbollah supporters have been attacking the peaceful protesters , setting their camps on fire in several cities and towns . This is the security collapse An Nahar is referring to.

Berri is not a poor man. According to Lebanese media reports Berri is considered one of the wealthiest Lebanese . The pro Hezbollah and Syrian regime newspaper Al Akhbar reported in 2011 : “According to the U.S. Embassy cable dated April 7, 2006 , Berri family’s wealth is around US$2 billion.” The report added that Berri family is the largest landowner in the south of Lebanon. Berri reportedly receives $ millions from Iran.

 Berri and his wife Randa Assi Berri  claimed on Nov 13 that they  lifted bank secrecy off their accounts inside and outside Lebanon, National News Agency reported.

NNA said Berri and his spouse signed memos lifting their bank secrecy during a meeting with the notary public Shadi Rammal.

One analysts told Ya Libnan ” as  soon as president Michel Aoun announced that bank secrecy  will be lifted off all the accounts of politicians, most of their accounts in Lebanon were emptied and wired to Swiss banks and tax haven countries.”   He added ” Aoun’s announcement was labeled as a password to the politicians.”

Ever since Aoun made the statement the banking community has been in deep trouble, they are running out of dollars and this has led to the decline in value of the Lebanese currency which is pegged to the dollar . In parallel markets the Lebanese pound lost nearly 20 % of its pegged value. This is because the banks are controlling the amount of Dollars that could be withdrawn