Salameh says appeared before European team as 'witness'

Central bank governor Riad Salameh said Friday that he has appeared "as a witness" before the European legal team and not as a suspect or an accused.

Salameh was questioned for two hours Friday and six hours the day before about his properties abroad and his wealth.

He said in a statement, after leaving the Justice Palace where he was questioned, that he has presented documents that prove that no money has been transferred to his personal account from the central bank's funds.

Salameh also said that the money transferred to bank accounts abroad was from his personal account and not from the central bank's money, accusing some media outlets, journalists, and "populist" politicians of "fabricating" evidence.

"The transfers I made abroad, whatever the amount, were from my personal account," he said.

The European investigators are looking into allegations of financial misconduct, including possible money laundering and embezzlement.

In January, the European investigators interviewed banking officials in Beirut about the transfer of funds to countries where Salameh has significant assets.

They have also been examining the central bank's ties to Forry Associates Ltd, a British Virgin Islands-registered company that listed Salameh's brother as its beneficiary.

Forry is suspected of having brokered Lebanese treasury bonds and Eurobonds at a commission, which was then allegedly transferred to bank accounts abroad.

Salameh denied he profited from any commissions to the company.

He said that Forry has not received money from the central bank's funds and decried "ill intentions" against him, blaming an "ongoing media campaign" for his legal woes.

The European team has set April 15 to start questioning the governor's brother, Raja Salameh and the governor's associate, Marianne Hoayek.

While some local media said that Salameh won't be questioned again, LBCI reported that French Judge Aude Buresi told Salameh that he is required to attend a hearing session in Paris in mid-May, but Judge Charbel Abu Samra refused the oral notice and asked for an official notice through the Public Prosecution.

Source: Naharnet

Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved.