France and Luxembourg request info on Riad Salameh's assets
Paris and Luxembourg sent a letter to the Lebanese government requesting information about the assets and accounts of Lebanese Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh.
Two Lebanese judicial sources confirmed to Reuters today, Saturday, that France and Luxembourg authorities sent a letter to the Lebanese government requesting information about the assets and accounts of Lebanese Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh.
The sources did not give any details.
A spokesman for the Luxembourg judiciary told Reuters that it has filed a "criminal case" against Salameh and his companies and assets and was prohibited from providing more information at the time.
Luxembourg's judiciary and the Lebanese Minister of Justice did not respond to requests for comment on the matter.
Today, Saturday, the French Embassy in Lebanon said that it could not comment on the current "legal procedures".
When Reuters asked Salameh to comment on the event, he said that this is a "normal procedure" and not a "lawsuit", adding that if they had filed a legal case, they would not need assistance in the investigation.
Salameh has reigned the Lebanese central bank for almost 30 years, but his position has been subject to intense scrutiny since the economic collapse that Lebanon has been witnessing since 2019, which led to the depreciation of the currency and pushed many of the population into poverty.
The Swiss attorney general's office said last year that it had requested legal assistance from Lebanon as part of an investigation into "massive money laundering" and the possible embezzlement of more than $300 million under Salameh's ruling of the Banque du Liban.
The Public Prosecutor in Mount Lebanon, Judge Ghada Aoun, issued a decision preventing the Governor of the Banque du Liban, Riad Salameh, from disposing of new properties owned by him in Safra, Kfardebian, and Ashrafieh regions (7 properties). Judge Aoun issued a subpoena against Salameh after he was absent from the interrogation session for the third time.
Earlier this month, Aoun has also banned Salameh from traveling.
Luxembourg opens criminal case on CBL Governor Riad Salameh
Luxembourg judicial authorities announced on November 15 that they have opened a criminal inquiry in relation to Lebanese Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh and his companies and assets, according to a judicial spokesperson.
A spokesperson for Lebanon's Central Bank however said the governor was not notified of any case against him in Luxembourg, declining to comment any further.
Salameh is already under at least two European investigations, including a Swiss inquiry opened in January over alleged "aggravated money laundering" at the Central Bank involving $300 million in gains by a company owned by Salameh's brother.
Moreover, French prosecutors opened a preliminary investigation into money laundering accusations against Salameh in late May. Salameh's lawyer however denied the allegations, calling them politically motivated. Later in July, the prosecutors said the investigation was handed over to French anti-corruption courts.
Salameh has faced accusations of being a main actor in the collapse of Lebanon's financial system, considering he was the governor of the Central Bank for close to 28 years.
Switzerland's Money Laundering Reporting Office had monitored over $326 million in documents and money transfers linked to Riad Salameh and his brother Rajaa, done as a result of an agreement signed in 2002.