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France probes Lebanon central bank chief's wealth

June 7, 2021 at 9:36 am

Lebanon’s Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh in Beirut on 11 November 2019 [JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images]

France has opened a preliminary investigation into the wealth of Lebanon’s central bank governor, Riad Salameh, AFP reported yesterday.

The investigation was opened in late May by financial prosecutors in Paris to probe “criminal association and money laundering by Salameh”, AFP added, citing sources close to the investigation and a French judicial source. Two other lawsuits were filed in April by the Paris anti-corruption prosecutor against Salameh’s “large fortune in Europe.”

The investigation findings could shed light on the origins of the 70-year-old’s wealth.

Another criminal complaint has already been filed against Salameh and people close to him, including his brother Raja, his son Nadi, a nephew, and his assistant at the central bank, Marianne Howayek, for “fraudulently building a vast fortune in Europe.”

Salameh has stressed that his wealth stemmed from “inheritances, his banking career and legitimate investments since taking office in 1993.”

Since 2019, Lebanon has been hit by its worst economic crisis, a collapse in the value of the national currency, and the imposition of banking restrictions prohibiting bank transfers outside the country. The World Bank says the crisis is one of the worst anywhere since the 19th century.

READ: Lebanon bank governor faces corruption allegations in France