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Lebanon Central Bank chief faces travel ban after Interpol Red Notice

May 24, 2023 at 6:37 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]

Lebanon’s Central Bank Governor, Riad Salameh, attended a judicial hearing in Beirut on Wednesday where his Lebanese and French passports were confiscated following an Interpol Red Notice against him over embezzlement and money-laundering charges, Reuters reports.

Salameh faces charges in Lebanon, France and Germany over accusations that he colluded with his brother to take hundreds of millions of dollars from the Central Bank to the detriment of the Lebanese State, and then laundered the money abroad.

He denies the accusations.

On Wednesday, he attended a hearing in Beirut that lasted over an hour and during which he handed over his Lebanese and French passports to Lebanese authorities, a senior judicial source told Reuters.

READ: EXPLAINER – The probes into Lebanon Central Bank chief Salameh

France issued a warrant for Salameh’s arrest on 16 May, after he failed to show up for a Paris court hearing. Days later, Interpol issued a “red notice” for the Governor, an alert typically issued for international fugitives.

The notice’s practical legal effect varies by country and does not compel authorities to arrest a wanted individual.

Germany issued its own arrest warrant for Salameh on Tuesday, according to two informed sources. One of them said Lebanon had received verbal notice of the warrant.

The Governor told Reuters he had not been notified of the German arrest warrant.

Salameh, who has been Central Bank Governor for 30 years, is facing growing calls to resign ahead of his latest term ending in July, though Lebanon’s caretaker Cabinet took no decision on the matter during a Monday meeting that discussed his case.

READ: Lebanon set to be grey-listed by financial crime watchdog – sources