Ottoman domination of Lebanon, which lasted for more than four centuries, was brought to an end on October 6, 1918, with the entrance of the Levant Marine Division in Beirut roads. The paper money issued by the Turkish Treasury, with a forced exchange rate, suffered the same fate.
In order to normalize economic life in the occupied territories and cover the expenses of the allied forces, English authorities imposed the banknote of the National Bank of Egypt, the Egyptian currency having been, since October 30, 1916, closely linked to the sterling and entirely covered by securities issued in sterling.
In accordance with the convention signed between the French and the British governments on September 15, 1919, a new occupying authority started to rule Lebanon. French troops replaced the British, under the command of General Gouraud, who was appointed on October 12, 1919 as "High-Commissioner of the French Republic in Syria and Cilicia, and Commander-in-Chief of the Levant Army". Consequently, the use of the Egyptian currency, suitable for the British Treasury, became inappropriate. To obtain Egyptian pounds, France, being the sole occupying power, had to offer increasing amounts of francs.
During the First World War, the French franc had maintained its status thanks to advances from the British and American Treasuries. However, in 1919, the French franc registered a drop because of the British government's decision to stop these advances, thus breaking the alliance between the franc, the sterling and the dollar, and also because of the US Government's decision to suspend its regulating role of the associated change rates. In order to replace the Egyptian pound, the French government decided, by Decree NÂ° 129 issued by the High Commissioner on March 13, 1920, to endow Syria with a national currency.
On September 1, 1920, the representative of France proclaimed Great Lebanon. In 1920, the Bank of Syria was granted the concession of issuing the Syrian currency, which became legal tender on May 1, 1920. Banknotes issued by this bank were reimbursable to the bearer or at sight by checks drawn on Paris, at the rate of FF 20 for one Syrian pound.
As a consequence, an independent, currency-issuing department was established at the Bank of Syria. It was responsible for putting in circulation and withdrawing banknotes. Issuances were made either on behalf of the Treasury in Paris or on behalf of the Bank itself.
Concerning commercial operations, the Issuing Department was to provide the Bank of Syria with banknotes only in exchange of foreign currencies or foreign securities, which constituted, together with the credits granted by the Treasury in Paris, the coverage of the currency in circulation.
HeadquartersBanque du Liban
Masraf Lubnan street