Saudi Press

Saudi Arabia and the world
Thursday, Feb 22, 2024

Lebanon’s central bank chief expected to be no-show in Paris court

Lebanon’s central bank chief expected to be no-show in Paris court

Riad Salameh, the governor of Lebanon’s central bank, Banque du Liban, is not expected to appear as scheduled before a European financial investigation at a Paris court on Tuesday.
He was summoned by French Judge Aude Buresi two weeks ago. It is thought the session was scheduled to bring charges against Salameh over allegations that he accumulated a fortune in European accounts, including cash and real estate, through a complex system of financial arrangements and the embezzlement of large amounts of Lebanese public funds.

The European investigation, involving France, Germany and Luxembourg, focuses on the relationship between the central bank and Forry Associates, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands, with an office in Beirut, that is owned by the governor’s brother, Raja Salameh.

It is alleged it is a shell company used to transfer money out of Lebanon to European banks. It is suspected that more than $330 million was embezzled from the central bank through a grant contract with the company, in addition to illegal commissions from local Lebanese banks.

Officials at Mina El-Hosn police station in Beirut — the local law enforcement authority responsible for notifying Salameh he has been summoned by the judge in Paris — told the Lebanese judiciary that officers visited the central bank three times but the governor was not in his office.

A Lebanese judicial source told Arab News on Monday: “The acting first investigating judge in Beirut, Charbel Abou Samra, responded four days ago to the French request to notify Salameh through the Lebanese judiciary, informing the French judiciary that Salameh could not be found and notified within the deadline.”

The Lebanese judiciary carried out a French judicial request but has no other input or say in any actions French legal authorities might take, the source said, adding: “According to the European-Lebanese judicial cooperation, Lebanon may witness more judicial requests with which it will cooperate as it has done before.”

When Salameh was questioned in Beirut in mid-March by a European judicial delegation, led by Judge Buresi, he appeared as a witness at that time.

“(He) was not interrogated as a suspect in the Palace of Justice in Beirut, as foreign judiciaries are not authorized to accuse anyone on Lebanese soil. This can only be done on the territory of the country investigating the case,” the source explained.

The European judicial delegation questioned a number of other witnesses in Beirut during two rounds of investigations, including caretaker Finance Minister Youssef Khalil, bankers, current and former officials from the central bank, and auditors of the bank’s accounts.

They also spoke with Raja Salameh during a session that lasted more than six hours, and with Marianne Hoayek, who is Riad Salameh’s assistant.

Judge Abou Samra has not imposed a travel ban on Riad Salameh, despite local investigations into allegations of his involvement in embezzlement, money laundering, forgery, counterfeiting and tax evasion. The judicial source confirmed that the judge set May 18 as the date on which the Salameh brothers and Hoayek are to appear before him, and the summons remains in force.

“Salameh is considered to be notified of this date through his legal representative, who has previously filed pleadings on his behalf,” the source added.

Investigations conducted by Mount Lebanon Public Prosecutor Judge Ghada Aoun into Salameh and the activities at the central bank initially included a travel ban.

“However, Judge Aoun later revoked the decision,” the source added.

Salameh’s position as governor does not grant him any legal immunity. The 72-year-old has been governor of the central bank for more than 30 years. His current term ends in July and he has indicated that he will not seek another.

A constitutional, legal and political debate continues regarding the appointment of a new governor given the political paralysis in Lebanon. A caretaker government remains in charge, with limited powers, and the office of president has been vacant since Michel Aoun’s term ended in October.

Members of the Forces of Change in Lebanon, a bloc of new MPs elected a year ago, hold Salameh responsible for the collapse of the Lebanese currency, which has lost more than 90 percent of its value since 2019, and the unprecedented economic crisis that continues to grip the country. They also accuse successive governments of corruption.
Newsletter

Related Articles

Saudi Press
0:00
0:00
Close
Apple warns against drying iPhones with rice
China Criticizes US for Vetoing UN Ceasefire Resolution in Gaza
In a recent High Court hearing, the U.S. argued that Julian Assange endangered lives by releasing classified information.
The U.S. vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza, instead proposing its own six-week ceasefire plan contingent upon the release of all hostages held by Hamas
Prince William Urges End to Gaza Conflict
Saudi Arabia ranks first in UN index for e-government services in MENA
Israel has gone ‘beyond self-defence’ in Gaza, says Labour’s Streeting
EU Calls for Immediate Ceasefire in Gaza Conflict
Israel Records 20% Drop In GDP, War In Gaza Is The Reason
Saudi Arabia's FDI Inflows Grow with New International Standards
Venture Capitals Power Up Across MENA Region
Saudi Arabia Introduces Terms for 30-Year Income Tax Exemption for Multinational Companies
Saudi FM: Establishing Palestinian state is only pathway for Mideast stability
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has died at the Arctic prison colony
Elon Musk's Starlink Gets License For Israel, Parts Of Gaza
Influencers Exploit X Platform for Profit Amidst Israel-Gaza Conflict
PM Modi Announces Opening Of New CBSE Office In Dubai
International Criminal Court's Chief "Deeply Concerned" By Rafah Bombing
January Funding for MENA Startups Totals $86.5 Million
Saudi Arabia accelerates digital economy growth through Nvidia partnership
Indian female military officers commend Saudi Arabia's progress and women's empowerment
Israel unveils tunnels underneath Gaza City headquarters of UN agency for Palestinian refugees
Israel deploys new military AI in Gaza war
Egypt threatens to suspend key peace treaty if Israel pushes into Gaza border town, officials say
Israel Utilizes AI Military Technology in Gaza Conflict
Saudi Arabia Warns Of A "Humanitarian Catastrophe" If Israel Moves On Rafah
China Warns Iran to Halt Houthi Attacks or Damage Trade Ties
US University To Shut Qatar Campus Due To "Heightened Mideast Instability"
Iran-backed hackers interrupt UAE TV streaming services with deepfake news
Facebook and Instagram Ban Iran's Supreme Leader
Finnish Airline, Finnair, is voluntarily weighing passengers to better estimate flight cargo weight
U.S. Secretary of State Blinken: The Israelis underwent dehumanization on 7.10, this does not give them the right to do this to others.
Defense Technology Showcase Held in Riyadh
Saudi Arabia’s non-oil exports rise 2.5% to $6bn in November 2023: GASTAT
UK Bans Misleading "Zero Emissions" Claims for Electric Cars
Gaza's Teen Inventor Sparks Light in Displacement
Netanyahu Rejects Ceasefire Proposal, Insists On Total Victory Over Hamas
Guterres appoints independent UNRWA review panel
Private Sector Employment Hits Record High with Over 11 Million Employees in January
Rolls-Royce Executive Encourages Saudi Women to Tap into Their Inner 'Superhero' for Success in Defense Industry
Saudi Arabia launches National Academy of Vehicles and Cars
Saudi Tourism Minister Reveals Plan for 250,000 New Hotel Rooms by 2030
SAR to more than double eastern network passenger capacity with new trains deal
Saudi Arabia Enhances National Defense with New Partnerships
Saudi Aramco Maintains Arab Light Crude Pricing to Asia for March
NEOM Establishes New York Office to Support Investors
Saudi Wealth Fund Draws in Over $25 Billion Worth of Investments in Three Years, Al-Rumayyan Reveals
ZATCA Cautions Against Scammer Schemes
INTRA Defense Technologies inaugurates drone factory in Riyadh
Saudi Arabia's Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources, Bandar Alkhorayef, has announced a partnership with the London Metal Exchange to set up metal storage and delivery centers in the country. Alkhorayef highlighted Saudi Arabia's expanding military industries sector, crediting the Public Investment Fund (PIF) as a key partner, during his speech at the second PIF Private Sector Forum in Riyadh
×