Lebanon Businessnews News

What twenty billion?
Syrian deposits in local banks do not exceed $3 billion: Makram Sader
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July 11, 2011- Secretary General of the Association of Banks, Makram Sader, downplayed reports that $20 billion were transferred to the local banking sector from Syria in the wake of unrest in Damascus. In an article published on July 11 by As-Safir local daily, Sader wrote that Syrian deposits in local banks haven’t increased since the outbreak of turmoil.

Syrian deposits in local banks do not exceed $3 billion, which accounts for only 2.7 percent of the total private sector deposits at commercial banks. The deposit growth of local commercial banks in the first five months of this year was $3.3 billion, he said.

Sader said total deposits in the Syrian banking industry were only $28.4 billion, of which 14.3 percent, equivalent to 4.3 billion, in foreign currency. He said official Syrian figures showed withdrawals of around $1.7 billion from Syrian banks in the first quarter of the year.

The Economist magazine cited an estimate last week that $20 billion had left Syria during the unrest. It said much of the funds were transferred to Lebanon.

Sader also ruled out the likelihood that the local banking sector could be troubled by the unrest in neighboring Syria.
“Syrian deposits in Lebanese banks operating in Damascus amount to $6 billion…while the portfolio of loans extended to Syrian clients amount to one billion dollars,” he said. In other words, he said, loans extended by local banks to their clients in Syria account for less than two percent of their total loans.

Sader said the assets of Lebanese banks operating in Damascus account for approximately 17 percent of the total assets of the Syrian banking system, and 22 percent of total deposits and loans. These assets account for 60 percent of the total assets of Syria’s private banks and represent 70 percent of deposits, and 57 percent of loans.

The capital of the seven Lebanese banks operating in Syria has reached $545 million by the end of the first quarter of this year. However, Sader said, the capital share of Lebanese banks is 49 percent, equivalent to $267 million. This represents less that five percent of the capital of these banks, he said.
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Date Posted: Jul 12, 2011