U.S. Denies Reports of Salameh Sanctions, Governor to File Lawsuits
U.S. Embassy spokesman Casey Bonfield on Friday told al-Jadeed TV that reports claiming that Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh will be hit with U.S. sanctions are baseless.
The Central Bank’s press office meanwhile announced that Salameh will file a series of lawsuits inside and outside Lebanon against Bloomberg News, its correspondent in Beirut and “anyone who stands behind them” on charges of “fabricating news, insults and attempts to tarnish the reputation of the central bank governor.”
It added that “such insults negatively affect all Lebanese,” are tantamount to “national treason” and are harmful to “the country’s financial security and rescue chances.”
Bloomberg has reported that the U.S. is considering sanctions against Salameh, quoting four people familiar with the matter.
“Officials within the Biden administration have discussed the possibility of coordinated measures with their European counterparts targeting Riad Salameh,” Bloomberg quoted the sources as saying.
“The discussion has so far focused on the possibility of freezing Salameh’s overseas assets and enacting measures that would curtail his ability to do business abroad… Deliberations are ongoing and a final decision over whether to take action may not be imminent,” Bloomberg added.
Swiss authorities are looking into allegations that Salameh indirectly benefited from the sale of Lebanese Eurobonds held in the central bank’s portfolio between 2002 and 2016, according to a Lebanese judicial official and a person familiar with the Swiss investigation, both of whom requested anonymity as the information is sensitive.
Also of interest to authorities is the relationship between Salameh’s brother, Raja, and the brokerage firm Forry Associates Ltd, which charged commissions on the sale of Eurobonds to investors, four of Bloomberg’s sources said. The commissions under scrutiny total more than $300 million, according to a person familiar with the Swiss investigation.