On May 10, 2021 the Lebanese Central Bank (the “BDL”) issued basic circular number 157 (basic decision No: 13324) (the “Circular”) enacting the legal and regulatory framework that launches, organizes and regulates the “Sayrafa” platform. Sayrafa is a new electronic platform developed by the BDL that is intended to record all Lebanese Pounds foreign exchange transactions into any other foreign currency, carried out by all persons and entities licensed to do so (the “Platform”). The purpose of this Platform is to identify the exchange rates at any point in time and to allow the BDL to supervise and intervene when needed.
Here below are the main rules set by the Circular:
- All Lebanese Banks shall participate in the Platform pursuant to an invitation sent to their respective IP Addresses;
- All Lebanese Banks shall immediately and clearly record all foreign exchange operations on the Platform including, without limitation, the following information:
- Transaction date;
- Transaction value;
- Purpose of the transaction;
- For physical persons: Full Name, mobile number and ID;
- For entities: Company Name, Company contact number and proof of incorporation.
- All transactions may be carried out by the banks in banknotes (or in otherwise unrestricted “fresh” funds) based on the supply and demand of the market;
- As a result of the foreign exchange transactions, banks shall not charge unusual spreads and in no case spreads in excess of 1% of the purchase price;
- All Lebanese Banks shall obtain a banking secrecy waiver from the client lifting secrecy on each transaction carried out on the Platform in favor of the BDL and its Banking Control Commission ;
- All Lebanese Banks shall disclose their daily cash balances in Lebanese Pounds and foreign currencies on the “open” and “close” of every trading session.
The BDL may in its sole discretion using available means and resources, decide to intervene on the Platform to stabilize the Lebanese Pound’s foreign exchange rate. These interventions will be carried out through a special account called the “Forex stabilization fund” created for that purpose .