Saudi Press

Saudi Arabia and the world
Sunday, Jan 29, 2023

EU delegation set to open investigation into governor of Lebanon’s central bank

EU delegation set to open investigation into governor of Lebanon’s central bank

A judicial delegation from France, Germany and Luxembourg will open its investigation into the activities of Lebanon’s central bank and its governor, Riad Salameh, in Beirut on Monday. It is expected to continue until Friday.
Salameh is facing prosecution in cases relating to money transfers from Lebanon to banks in those European countries, the sources of the funds and the extent to which they might be linked to corruption, money laundering and financial crimes in Europe.

Arab News understands the Central Criminal Investigation Division affiliated with the Public Prosecution Office in Lebanon has informed those who have been called for questioning of the dates on which they are expected to attend the Justice Palace in Beirut, beginning early next week. They include 15 banking officials, including current and former vice-governors of the central bank. Salameh himself will not be questioned at this stage, a judicial source said.

In March 2022, European authorities froze $130 million of Lebanese assets, and targeted Salameh and four people close to him for investigation in relation to alleged embezzlement of public funds.

Judge Ghassan Oweidat, Lebanon’s public prosecutor, met on Thursday with a diplomatic delegation from the embassies of France, Germany and Luxembourg at the Justice Palace. The Lebanese judiciary has expressed disapproval of the way it is being treated in the case.

Lebanese authorities were officially informed by letter that a judicial delegation from the three European countries would be arriving in Lebanon to conduct their investigation. The delegation includes public prosecutors and specialist financial judges, who told Lebanese authorities about their visit in the letter without formally requesting authorization to conduct their investigation.

This was a strange and an unprecedented move, according to the judicial source, who also questioned what it means for the sovereignty and relevance of the Lebanese state if foreign countries can simply grant themselves the authority to conduct investigations on its soil.

He also said it was surprising that the representatives of the three European countries had only informed the Lebanese judiciary of the date of the delegation’s arrival in Beirut to conduct its investigation and the names of the individuals to be questioned, without requesting the judiciary’s assistance or cooperation. This undermines and violates the authority of the Lebanese judiciary, he added.

“The foreign judicial delegation doesn’t have the right to arrive in Lebanon and conduct investigations without a letter of request,” the source said.

“The Convention against Corruption signed by Lebanon requires it to meet the demands of foreign judicial authorities, provided that they comply with the Lebanese laws.”

Salameh has faced harsh criticism for his monetary policies and financial engineering operations, which have been blamed for contributing to the accumulation of debt and eventual collapse of Lebanon’s economy.

The French financial judiciary has been investigating him since 2021 on charges of money laundering and embezzlement. He has been governor of the central bank since 1993 and his term is set to end in May.

Switzerland has also been investigating allegations of embezzlement in the central bank, with Salameh and his brother the main suspects.

During their meeting, Judge Oweidat and the delegates went through the due process followed by Lebanon in such cases. The investigation will take place at the hall of the Court of Cassation at the Justice Palace in Beirut and the judicial source said Oweidat and the delegates agreed a protocol to be followed during the investigation. It requires investigators to direct their questions to witnesses through Lebanese judges who will be present during the sessions, rather then directly to the individuals being questioned, who have the right to have lawyers present.

“If the European judges want to make any claims, they should do so in their countries and not during the investigation sessions in Lebanon,” the judicial source said.

“After the claim, a refund request should be sent to Lebanon. What is certain is that no action can be taken against any Lebanese who was interrogated and investigated during the hearing.”

The source said the Lebanese judiciary cannot extradite any Lebanese citizen to any other country for prosecution in the case, even if there are signed conventions in place between the countries. Any prosecution of a Lebanese citizen will take place in Lebanese territory, similar to what happened in the case of Ziad Takieddine, he added.

Takieddine is a 72-year-old Lebanese-French businessman accused by the French judiciary of financial crimes. He was a key witness in an investigation into alleged Libyan financing of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign. He told French investigators in 2016 that he gave Sarkozy and his office manager €5 million ($5.3 million) to fund Sarkozy’s campaign. He was detained in Lebanon in 2020 and where he faced a French investigation but was tried by the Lebanese judiciary.

Similarly, in 2021 French investigators visited Lebanon to question Lebanese businessman Carlos Ghosn. Their questions were directed to a Lebanese judge who, in turn, put them to Ghosn.

The judicial source added: “The French know this protocol in Lebanon because they have experienced it before.”

Related Articles

Saudi Press
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Germany confirms it will provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
Saudi FM discusses Kingdom’s economy, oil, Iran and US ties in Davos
Israelis rally in three cities against Netanyahu legal reforms
China's foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong urges British gov't to stop the biased and double standards Hong Kong report
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Saudi Arabia plans to use domestic uranium for nuclear fuel
Mohammed Bin Salman chosen most influential Arab leader of 2022
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
United Arab Emirates says it will teach Holocaust in schools
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
International medical experts speak out against COVID-19 restrictions on China
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Saudi Arabia’s female ambassadors: Who are the five women representing the Kingdom?
Almubarak named ‘The Best Central Bank Governor of the Year 2023 for the Middle East’
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Dubai announces $8.7 trillion economic plan to boost trade, investment and global hub status
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
A Republican congressman-elect is under investigation in New York after he admitted he lied about his education and work experience.
Brazilian football legend Pele, arguably the greatest player ever, has died at the age of 82.
Hong Kong to scrap almost all its Covid rules
EU calls screening of travellers from China unjustified
US imposes Covid testing for visitors from China
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Addresses Joint Session of Congress - FULL SPEECH
Where is Rishi? Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's excuses about the UK's economic challenges just don't make sense
Former FTX CEO Bankman-Fried finally arrested in Bahamas after U.S. files charges
Corruption works: House Financial Services Chair Waters doesn't plan to subpoena her donor, Sam Bankman-Fried, to testify at hearing on FTX collapse
Ronaldo's new contract...
Prince William's godmother resigns honorary royal role after exposing her/their racism
Tax fraud verdict again exposes illusion of Trump the master businessman
Tax fraud verdict again exposes illusion of Trump the master businessman.