France Opens Probe into Personal Wealth of Lebanon’s Central Bank Chief
Story Code : 936645
Paris financial prosecutors have opened a preliminary probe into criminal association and money laundering by Salameh, a source close to the investigation and a judicial source said, following a similar move by Switzerland.
Its findings could shed light onto the origins of the 70-year-old former Merrill Lynch banker’s wealth.
In post since 1993, Salameh has been repeatedly accused by the government of caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab of being responsible for the collapse of the Lebanese pound.
The Lebanese public suspect him and other high officials of transferring money abroad during a 2019 uprising, when ordinary people were prevented from doing so.
Lebanon has since been hit by an economic crisis which the World Bank says is one of the worst anywhere since the 19th century.
Salameh has been under investigation for months in Switzerland on suspicion of serious money laundering and embezzlement from the Bank of Lebanon.
He also owns several properties in France and may have transferred money via the country.
One of the criminal complaints that prompted French prosecutors to get involved came from Swiss foundation Accountability Now, daily Le Monde reported.
Another was filed by anti-financial crime group Sherpa and by the Collective of Victims of Fraudulent and Criminal Practices in Lebanon, set up by savers devastated by the post-2019 crisis.