Lebanon issues travel ban against Central Bank chief wanted by France
Days after Beirut received an Interpol red notice following a French arrest warrant, a Lebanese judge has banned the country's central bank chief Riad Salameh from traveling.
A Lebanese judge has banned the country's central bank chief Riad Salameh from traveling.
This comes one day after Lebanon has been verbally informed by Germany of an arrest warrant against Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh "on charges of corruption, forgery... and money laundry and embezzlement."
The judge questioned Salameh and "decided to release him pending investigation, ban him from traveling, and confiscate his Lebanese and French passports," the official said as quoted by AFP, requesting anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media.
The Lebanese judge on Wednesday also called on the French judiciary to refer Salameh's file to Beirut in order to "determine whether the Lebanese judiciary will prosecute him for the crimes he is accused of in France or not," the official added.
In this context, senior judicial sources told Al Mayadeen, "Lebanon does not extradite its nationals to other countries, even in the presence of bilateral treaties."
The sources further confirmed that Lebanon adheres to Article 30, appended to Article 17 of the Penal Code, which stipulates that a Lebanese national should only be tried in Lebanon.
Interpol issued the red notice last week after a French court issued a warrant for Salameh.
An Interpol red notice is not an international arrest order, but it requests that suspects be detained indefinitely pending extradition or other legal processes.
Who is Riad Salameh?
Salameh, who is a dual French-Lebanese citizen, has so far failed to appear before the French court by fortifying himself with Lebanese law, which forbids the extradition of nationals.
Salameh, 72, is being investigated in Lebanon and at least five European countries for embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars from Lebanon's central bank. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Salameh, who is a dual #French-Lebanese citizen, has so far failed to appear before the French court by fortifying himself with #Lebanese law, which forbids the extradition of nationals. pic.twitter.com/N0ZfL1j9O0— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) May 24, 2023
In March 2022, the European Judicial Cooperation Unit EuroJust announced that France, Germany, and Luxembourg had frozen 120 million euros of Lebanese assets following an investigation targeting Salameh and four of his close associates, including his brother Raja Salameh, on charges of money laundering and embezzlement of public funds in Lebanon worth more than 330 million dollars and 5 million euros, respectively, between 2002 and 2021.
Salameh, who has been central bank governor for 30 years, is facing growing calls to resign ahead of his latest term ending in July.
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.
He has long maintained his innocence since the case was opened against him in the wake of the Lebanese financial crisis.
Despite the lawsuits, summons, investigations, and travel ban issued against him in Lebanon, Salameh is still in the position he has held since 1993, making him one of the longest-serving central bank governors in the world.
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