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European investigators allowed to attend Lebanon's Salameh hearing

March 12, 2023 at 4:00 pm

Security forces raid the central bank in search of its governor Riad Salameh in the capital Beirut, Lebanon on July 19, 2022. [Houssam Shbaro – Anadolu Agency]

European investigators returning to Beirut will be permitted to attend a Lebanese judge’s questioning of central bank governor Riad Salameh, two sources said on Sunday, as Lebanon and several foreign countries investigate whether he embezzled public funds, Reuters reports.

Salameh, 72, and his brother are being investigated in Lebanon and at least five European countries. They both deny any wrongdoing.

Last month, a Lebanese judge charged the Salameh brothers with embezzlement, money laundering, illicit enrichment, fraud and tax evasion and set a first hearing for Riad on Wednesday.

European investigators landing in Beirut on Monday for their second visit as part of the probe will be allowed to attend the hearing, a judicial source and another source with knowledge of the visit’s details told Reuters.

The judicial source said the presiding judge would not allow the foreign investigators to direct questions to Salameh, who has been central bank governor since 1993.

He still enjoys backing from powerful Lebanese leaders, who in turn have significant say over judges’ appointments.

The governor has told Reuters he is innocent and would abide by judicial proceedings, although he has not attended previous hearings over a smaller but related local corruption probe.

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