In a new sign of mounting pressure on Lebanon’s central bank, President Riad Salameh, a Swiss delegation is scheduled to visit Lebanon as part of ongoing investigations.
Switzerland was the first European country to begin an inquiry into Salameh, who is the subject of a series of judicial probes at home and abroad, into the fortune he has amassed during some three decades on the job.
Beirut said in January 2021 that it had received a Swiss judicial assistance request as part of an investigation into more than $300 million in financial transfers by the central bank director, his assistant, and his brother.
A Lebanese official who spoke on condition of anonymity told AFP that Lebanon “was informed by the Swiss authorities that a Swiss judicial delegation will visit Lebanon soon.”
The group will meet with a local court and examine individuals about Salameh’s and his family’s riches, following the footsteps of France, Germany, and Luxembourg, which seized assets totaling $130 million in March 2022 as part of an investigation into Salameh.
European investigators have questioned Salameh along with his aide Marianne Hoayek, his brother Raja, who serves as a minister, and central bank audit companies.
Salameh, who is a dual French-Lebanese citizen, has so far failed to appear before the French court by fortifying himself with Lebanese law, which forbids the extradition of nationals.
The 72-year-old is being investigated in Lebanon and at least five European countries for embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars from Lebanon’s central bank. He has denied any wrongdoing.
In March 2022, the European Judicial Cooperation Unit Euro just announced that France, Germany, and Luxembourg had frozen 120 million euros of Lebanese assets, following an investigation targeting Salameh and four of his close associates, including his brother Raja Salameh, on charges of money laundering and embezzlement of public funds in Lebanon worth more than 330 million dollars and 5 million euros, respectively, between 2002 and 2021.
Salameh, who has been central bank governor for 30 years, is facing growing calls to resign ahead of his latest term ending in July.
Source: Al Mayadeen