The Public Prosecutor in Beirut decided to prevent the Governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon, Riad Salameh, from traveling, confiscating his Lebanese and French passports, and leaving him under investigation, after interrogating him on the background of the international arrest warrant issued by the International Police (Interpol) against him at the request of the French judiciary.
A judicial official stated that the Public Prosecutor, Judge Imad Qablan, decided, after interrogating Salama for an hour and 20 minutes, to “leave him under investigation, prevent him from traveling, and confiscate his Lebanese and French passports.” file of the French investigation.
Several European countries are investigating Salama’s wealth, and investigators suspect that he accumulated real estate and banking assets through a complex financial scheme, in addition to misusing Lebanese public funds on a large scale during his tenure as governor of the Banque du Liban for more than 3 decades.
The French judge, Aud Bourizi, who is leading the European investigations into the Salama case, summoned him in early April to appear before her on May 16 in a session during which he was likely to be charged, but he was absent from the session, so the judge issued an arrest warrant against him.
On Friday, Lebanon received the red badge circulated by Interpol at the French request, but Lebanese laws do not allow the extradition of citizens to a foreign country for trial.
According to the statements of the judicial official to Agence France-Presse, the Lebanese judiciary determines, upon the arrival of the file from France, whether or not it will prosecute Salameh in Lebanon for the crimes he is accused of in France.
The Public Prosecutor in Munich had also issued an arrest warrant against Salameh, and one of the judges of the Public Prosecution Office of the Court of Cassation in Lebanon had orally informed that, as Salameh was charged with “crimes related to corruption, forgery, embezzlement and money laundering,” according to the same source.
There was no official comment from the Lebanese authorities regarding the two arrest warrants, but ministers and deputies demanded in statements that he step down, knowing that his term ends next July.
Salameh has held his position since 1993, making him one of the longest-serving central bank governors in the world.
A private Lebanese channel stated that Salameh refuted all the accusations during his interrogation, considering that the arrest warrant issued against him was invalid and illegal.
France, Germany and Luxembourg froze 120 million euros of Lebanese assets a year ago, following an investigation targeting Salameh and four of his close associates, including his brother, on charges of money laundering and “embezzlement of public funds in Lebanon amounting to more than 330 million dollars and 5 million euros, respectively, between 2002 and 2021.” .