By Callum Paton.
Tripoli, 6 July 2014:
HSBC is to pull out of Libya and close its office in Tripoli . . .[restrict]as it withdraws from markets where it has a limited presence, according to media reports.
The British newspaper The Daily Telegraph has reported that HSBC’s Libyan operations are to be overhauled and said the bank had employed fewer than ten workers in the country prior to the cutbacks. It added that HSBC had cut thousands of jobs worldwide and sold off dozens of businesses as it draws back from a number of markets under its new leadership.
HSBC’s presence in Libya, however, has been limited to a representative office, which served largely as a shop window for the bank. It performed no banking activities.
HSBC’s media office declined to comment on the development. One HSBC Libya employee told the Libya Herald, however, that he had been surprised to learn of the closure and said he had first heard of the news through media reports.
In March last year, HSBC shut down the accounts of almost all customers across the Middle East, including in Iran, Libya, and Sudan, after the bank was made to pay a $1.9-billion settlement for processing banned transactions from those countries.
HSBC’s operations in Libya date back to 1959, when it acquired The British Bank of the Middle East. Based in 24 December Street in Tripoli, it was one of the main commercial banks in the country. It was, however, seized and taken over when Qaddafi rose to power. The bank returned, but purely as a representative office in 2006, closing briefly during the revolution.