| 21 April 2024, Sunday |

Lebanon Central Bank governor working from office despite legal pressure: Sources

According to three sources, including one from the central bank, Lebanon’s central bank governor Riad Salameh is working regularly from his office, where he convened a meeting on Wednesday, a day after security forces summoned him for a court hearing over alleged misbehavior.

The security services were acting on the orders of Judge Ghada Aoun, who had given Salameh an open-ended subpoena after he failed to appear as a witness in multiple ongoing investigations.

Salameh had been residing in an apartment in the central bank building, according to two individuals. Salameh did not respond to a request for comment right away.

Salameh, Lebanon’s central bank governor for nearly three decades, has been accused of fraud and other wrongdoing in the run-up to the country’s financial crisis in 2019.

He is also under investigation in a number of European countries.

Salameh has denied any misconduct and labeled the allegations as politically motivated. He has requested that Judge Aoun be removed from all matters involving him, accusing her of bias.

According to a senior security source and local media, State Security, one of Lebanon’s key agencies, searched the central bank and two personal residences for Salameh on Tuesday but was unable to locate him.

According to media reports, State Security was hampered by another agency, the Internal Security Force (ISF), and Aoun told Reuters on Wednesday that she had charged Imad Osman, the ISF’s commander, with delaying the implementation of a judicial order.

In a statement, the ISF disputed that it had hindered the subpoena’s execution, claiming that Osman had spoken with the head of State Security over the phone and that the two were working together.

Within Lebanon’s sectarian political system, the ISF and State Security are perceived as having opposing political allegiances.

Salameh has come under heightened scrutiny since Lebanon’s financial catastrophe, but he still retains the backing of prominent leaders, including the prime minister.

  • Reuters