ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek bank deposits dropped slightly for the fourth straight month in September, a sign that their increase since the middle of last year has run out of steam, central bank data showed on Friday.
Businesses and household deposits fell 0.5 percent to 161.35 billion euros (137.54 billion pounds) from 162.21 billion euros in August, the Bank of Greece said.
Greek banks lost around 90 billion euros or a third of their deposit base after the country plunged into a debt crisis in late 2009, partly due to capital flight on fears of a euro zone exit.
About 17 billion euros returned to the banking system in the months following a mid-June 2012 election, which led to the formation of a new government and eased fears that Athens would leave the single currency.
The inflows helped ease banks' liquidity strains and their dependence on central bank funding.
But the inflows have dried up since March, when Cyprus was bailed out at the expense of bank deposit holders and as austerity-hit households and businesses run down bank accounts to pay for higher taxes imposed under Greece's international bailout to plug fiscal shortfalls.
(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos)