SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 23 September 2021, Thursday |

Lebanese prosecutor requests documents from central bank chief Salameh, says source

A Lebanese prosecutor asked central bank governor Riad Salameh for documents relating to suspicions of embezzlement, money laundering, and tax evasion but did not question him on Thursday in the absence of a lawyer, a senior judicial source said.

Salameh has dismissed previous corruption allegations against him as a smear campaign. In response to a question from Reuters, Salameh said the deliberations were secret.

“You should not confuse suspicion with accusations. My case is still on suspicion. I am also not charged,” Salameh said in a text message to Reuters.

The judicial source said the prosecutor, Judge Jean Tannous, had set a new session for September 28.

Salameh is under investigation in Switzerland on charges related to embezzlement and probes are under way or being planned in several other European countries.

Lebanon’s public prosecutor launched an investigation into Salameh in April after a Swiss legal request alleged that more than $300 million had been embezzled from the bank through a company owned by his brother.

Lebanon’s crippled banking system is at the heart of a financial crisis that erupted in late 2019. Banks have since blocked transfers abroad and cut access to deposits as dollars grew scarce.