BEIRUT — A European authorized crew on Friday wrapped up two days of questioning of Lebanon’s Central Financial institution chief in Beirut in a money-laundering probe linked to the governor, officers stated.
A number of European international locations are investigating Gov. Riad Salameh, who lately has been charged with corruption-related crimes, in a case of cash laundering of some $330 million. Salameh, 72, has been the pinnacle of Lebanon’s Central Financial institution since 1993.
He was questioned for 2 hours on Friday and 6 hours the day earlier than, in accordance with Lebanese judicial officers. The European delegation — with representatives from France, Germany, and Luxembourg — questioned Salameh by way of a Lebanese choose, performing as a go-between. Beneath Lebanese legal guidelines, the representatives can not straight query Salameh.
On Thursday, Salameh was questioned about an condo in Paris rented by Lebanon’s Central Financial institution and Forry Associates Ltd, a brokerage agency owned by Salameh’s brother, Raja Salameh, the officers instructed The Related Press, talking on situation of anonymity to debate the probe proceedings.
The questions principally targeted on the Central Financial institution, its property and investments exterior Lebanon, the officers added.
Salameh issued a press release later saying he responded to the questions out of respect to the regulation, including that he was not questioned “as a suspect or accused.” He additionally denounced what he described as “dangerous intentions” in opposition to him.
“Nations aren’t constructed on lies,” stated Salameh, who has repeatedly denied corruption prices.
The European crew set April 15 to begin questioning Salameh’s brother and an affiliate, Marianne Hoayek, the officers additionally stated.
Decide Helena Iskandar, who’s representing the Lebanese state within the European questioning, charged on Wednesday Salameh, his brother and Hoayek with corruption.
Along with the European probe, there are different authorized proceedings in opposition to Salameh underway in Lebanon. In late February, Beirut’s public prosecutor, Raja Hamoush, charged the identical three suspects with corruption, together with embezzling public funds, forgery, illicit enrichment, money-laundering and violation of tax legal guidelines.
Lebanon is grappling with the worst financial and monetary disaster in its fashionable historical past. The financial meltdown that started in late 2019 is rooted in a long time of corruption and mismanagement by the nation’s political class. Greater than 75% of the tiny nation’s inhabitants of 6 million has been plunged into poverty.
Salameh was as soon as hailed because the guardian of Lebanon’s monetary stability, however many within the nation now maintain him liable for the disaster, citing insurance policies that drove up nationwide debt. He nonetheless enjoys backing from the nation’s high politicians, nevertheless. His time period ends in July and he has instructed native media that he wish to step down from his publish as a substitute of pursuing one other time period.