Lebanon's central bank asks banks to raise capital by up to 20%: circular

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks outside of Lebanon's Central Bank building in Beirut, Lebanon March 16, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon’s central bank has asked banks to raise their capital by up to 20% by the end of June 2020, according to a central bank circular seen by Reuters, amid nationwide protests that led the prime minister to resign last week.

It also asked banks not to distribute dividends for the 2019 financial year.

Banks reopened on Friday after two weeks of closure in the wake of the demonstrations. In the first two days of reopening, lenders did not see any “extraordinary movement” of money, the head of the Association of Banks in Lebanon told Reuters on Saturday.

Lebanon is grappling with its worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war. With growth around zero, a slowdown in capital inflows has led to a scarcity of U.S. dollars and pressure on the pegged Lebanese pound.

Reporting by Lisa Barrington; Writing by Tom Arnold; Editing by Kevin Liffey