BEIRUT: Saudi Arabia does not intend to pull out its money from Lebanese banks, Second Deputy Prime Minister Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz said Sunday.
During a meeting with a delegation from the Economic Committees headed by former Minister Adnan Kassar, the prince assured the delegation that “Saudi Arabia has no intention to withdraw any Saudi deposits whether by investors or by the Saudi government, from Lebanese banks.”
According to the National News Agency, the Saudi official also said that the news Saudis had withdrawn money from Lebanese banks was a false rumor that has recently circulated.
He added that Riyadh was keen on maintaining the best ties with Lebanon and with Lebanese expatriate in its country.
"The kingdom's policy toward Lebanon will not change, because Lebanon has a special place in the kingdom," the prince, who was recently appointed to deputy prime minister, said.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi said over the weekend there is no financial or security reason for Saudi nationals to pull their money from Lebanese banks.
In a statement released by his office, Safadi said he was surprised to hear that Saudis have allegedly withdrawn their money and said: "I don't see any financial, security or political reason for the withdrawal of Saudi money by the government or Lebanon because there is mutual trust between Lebanon, as a people and government, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as people and leadership.”
Rumors began circulating Friday that Saudi nationals and officials were withdrawing their money from Lebanese banks against the backdrop of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s stance with regards to some parties in the country who have sided with the Syrian regime.
Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour’s call earlier this week for the Arab League to reinstate’s membership sparked the ire of Lebanese officials and figures. GCC has voiced its concern that Lebanon is failing to commit to its policy of disassociation with regards to regional events, adopted at the beginning of the crisis in Syria.
The alleged move by Saudis was also reportedly the result of remarks made by Lebanese lawmakers, particularly MP Michel Aoun, who said last month that the uprising in Bahrain was justified. The GCC said it considered Aoun’s comments as interference in the affairs of Manama.
Safadi also said that Saudi Arabia still supports “Lebanon's political, security and financial stability and it has demonstrated such a support on several occasions in modern history.”
He added that the country’s banking system allows for the free movement of money as well as its secrecy and that depositors have the freedom to do whatever they please with their funds.
According to Al-Markaziah website, Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh denied Saturday reports that Saudis have withdrawn their money.
A report on the website quoted Salameh as saying that the “rumors come in the framework of political conflicts and the exchange of accusations between Lebanese parties and negatively reflect the monetary and economic atmosphere in the country.”