Lebanon’s central bank governor Riad Salameh has failed to respond to a summons sent by the Lebanese judiciary for a hearing in France on Tuesday, a senior judicial source told The National.
Beirut First Investigative Judge Charbel Abou Samra has attempted to notify Mr Salameh of his hearing on three separate occasions, but the governor — or a representative who could sign for him — could not be located.
All the notification letters were returned to the Lebanese judiciary.
The source said that Mr Abou Samra had informed Aude Buresi, the French judge leading the case, on Monday that the governor could not be reached.
Mr Abou Samra, who is overseeing a related case in Lebanon, was responsible for transmitting the hearing request from the French judiciary to the governor.
“It is now up to the French judiciary to take the necessary measure in light of this development,” the source said.
The French deputy financial prosecutor said it was currently impossible to draw any conclusions on whether the non-delivery of the summons would delay the hearing.
“If Mr Salameh does not appear, it will be up to the investigating judge to assess the consequences to be drawn,” Antoine Jocteur-Monrozier told The National by email.
Sources told The National that intense negotiations had taken place over the past few weeks between the governor and the French judiciary over Mr Salameh’s attendance and a potential deal with the judiciary.
It was not clear why the summons was not handed to Mr Salameh or his representatives on these occasions.
If he fails to appear, France may initiate the process of issuing an international arrest warrant and request Interpol to release a red notice, which would serve as a global call to law enforcement agencies to locate and temporarily detain him.
Lebanon’s embattled central bank governor has been accused by several European countries of having embezzled more than $330 million from the central bank through commissions paid by commercial banks to a shell company owned by his brother.
Mr Salameh has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Two people related to the case have already been indicted in Paris.
In March, Lebanese banker Marwan Kheireddine was indicted for aggravated money laundering charges and participation in a criminal conspiracy.
In July last year, Anna Kosakova, the governor’s romantic partner, was indicted for criminal conspiracy, organised money laundering and aggravated tax fraud.
A delegation of European judicial officials made several visits to Lebanon this year to conduct hearings and collect evidence as part of the corruption investigation.
In March, they quizzed the governor for eight hours over a two-day hearing.
Source: The National