Lebanon: Europe investigators hear witnesses over central bank chief
The long-serving Central Bank chief is among the top officials largely blamed for Lebanon's catastrophic economic crisis.
A judicial official said as quoted by AFP, on Monday, that European investigators have begun interviewing high-profile witnesses in Lebanon as part of an investigation into the riches of Central Bank governor Riad Salameh.
The long-serving central bank chief is among the top officials largely blamed for Lebanon's catastrophic economic crisis, which the World Bank has labeled one of the worst in recent modern history.
In March, France, Germany, and Luxembourg seized properties and frozen assets totaling $130 million in a significant operation tied to a French investigation into Salameh's personal riches.
The source said, as cited by AFP, that investigators from the three countries questioned Saad Andary, a former central bank vice governor, and Khalil Kassaf, a former employee of the banking control commission, on Monday morning.
Two Lebanese judges "will ask questions on behalf of the Europeans to the two witnesses," he affirmed, requesting anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Last month, an official confirmed to AFP that representatives from the three nations would visit Lebanon in January to conduct investigations into financial matters related to Salameh.
Lebanon launched an investigation into Salameh's fortune last year after the Swiss prosecutor's office requested assistance with an investigation into more than $300 million reportedly embezzled from the Central Bank with the cooperation of his brother.
A Lebanese prosecutor investigating Salameh on suspicion of financial impropriety requested charges be filed against him in June, according to a court official at the time.
Both Salameh brothers have denied all wrongdoing.
Despite the investigations and a travel ban issued by Lebanese courts, the Central Bank chief has remained at the helm.
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