As Lebanon’s Currency Plummets, Central Bank Takes Aim at Google, Facebook
Black Friday took on a new meaning in Beirut this year as the Lebanese pound plunged to a new low in black market trade, reaching about 25,000 pounds to the US dollar. Rather than looking inward at the deep corruption, incompetence, and instability that have left the country teetering on the edge of political and economic collapse for years now, its central bank has found two deep-pocket culprits to blame for the ongoing monetary crisis: Google and Facebook. The two tech giants, Banque du Liban charges, should be held accountable for failing to remove “illegal” currency trading apps from their platforms. These apps advertise the black-market rate rather than the official rate set by the bank, which at 1,500 Lebanese pounds to the dollar is nearly 17 times more expensive. “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,” the central bank said in a statement. It’s not clear what Lebanon can do to stop black-market trading on servers located outside the country, but the 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 Lebanese government in March asked the US Federal Bureau of Investigation to clamp down on trading platforms that advertise black-market exchange rates but clearly, this hasn’t been effective. The World Bank has described Lebanon’s economic crisis as the worst in the world since 1850.