Lebanese central bank blames Google, FB for currency plunge
Lebanon’s central bank, the Banque du Liban, on Friday took aim at tech giants Google and Facebook as the country’s currency hit a new record low on the black market, plunging to 25,000 Lebanese pounds against one US dollar.
This is nearly 17 times less than the official rate set by the bank, which is 1,500 Lebanese pounds to the dollar.
The Banque du Liban said that currency trading apps advertising black market exchange rates for the Lebanese pound were behind the latest fall in the national currency’s value, and blamed Google and Facebook for not shutting them down.
“Many of [the currency trading apps] are based outside Lebanon and the Banque du Liban has called on Internet companies to ban these apps from their networks,” its statement said.
“The Banque du Liban will monitor this situation externally and will hold companies such as Google, Facebook, and others to account for the harm these apps have caused Lebanon,” the statement warned.
The bank called on the tech companies to “only publish the official rate”, describing the currency trading apps as “illegal” and saying that “trading and political interests were behind them”.
Lebanon is currently suffering from multiple economic, political, and financial crises. The World Bank has said that that the situation in the country is unprecedented, describing Lebanon’s economic crisis as the worst in the world since 1850.
Around 80 percent of the country’s population is now living in poverty as a result.
Riad Salameh, who has been governor of the Banque du Liban since 1993, is currently under investigation for corruption in Luxembourg and Switzerland.
He was previously praised for his monetary policies but is now accused of running a Ponzi scheme which led to the Lebanese pound’s dramatic collapse in 2019.
This is not the first time that Lebanese authorities have blamed Internet apps for the plunging value of the Lebanese pound.
In March this year, Lebanese judicial authorities requested the help of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to help shut down currency trading apps advertising the black market rate.