Freddie Baz, vice-chairman of the Board and general manager of Audi Bank, speaks during an interview with The Daily Star in Beirut, Friday, Aug. 3, 2018. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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A senior Lebanese banker brushed off claims the Lebanese economy is on the verge of collapse and its currency is under threat, but noted some banks preferred to offer higher interest rates on the pound deposits to counter the negative campaign against the country's economy.Baz was alluding to the decision of some banks, including Audi, to offer customers the opportunity to convert dollar deposits to local deposits which carry a higher return.But these local deposits must have maturity periods ranging from one year to a maximum of five years. The interest on these pound deposits goes up to 15 percent, for deposits with five-year maturity. The massive capital inflows, according to Baz, are growing year on year, and this has helped boost the Central Bank's foreign currency reserves – which now stand at $44 billion.Baz said many other banks followed suit after Audi started offering higher interest rates on local deposits.Baz said that this offer was based on a projection that the average weighted duration of a deposit will be slightly less than two years.
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