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Everyone thought this Lebanese woman was a beggar. Then they saw her bank account Open in fullscreen

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Everyone thought this Lebanese woman was a beggar. Then they saw her bank account

Many Lebanese were outraged amid an escalating financial crisis [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 October, 2019

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For years this destitute woman roamed the streets of Saida in south Lebanon, eliciting sympathy and begging passersby for money. Until everyone saw her bank account balance
For years this old destitute woman roamed the streets of Saida in south Lebanon, eliciting sympathy from passersby and begging for money.

Little did anyone know she was a billionaire in local currency, and a dollar millionaire, according to local press reports this week.

Bizarrely, it took US sanctions on powerful Lebanese militant group Hezbollah to expose her secret wealth.

You see, instead of hiding her alleged fortune under her mattress, Wafaa Mohammad Awad was stashing it in an account with Jammal Trust Bank (JTB). 

On 29 August, Washington slapped heavy financial sanctions on JTB, which was accused of acting as a key financial institution for Hezbollah.

The US Treasury said the bank was used for enabling several of the Shia militant group's financial activities, "including sending payments to families of suicide bombers."

As a result, the bank had to self-liquidate. Its customers, had to withdraw their deposits.

One of them seems to have been the septuagenarian Ms. Awad. Since then, copies of her bank statements were leaked to the media, showing her in posession of roughly 1.25 billion Lebanese pounds, or $900,000.

Lebanese took to social media to mock the news but many were outraged amid an escalating financial crisis in the small country. Some reports suggested she amassed the sum through panhandling.

The news also comes days after the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was revealed to have paid a South African bikini model $16 million in gifts, exposing the gap between Lebanon's upper classes and a struggling majority.


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