French Anti-Graft Judges Probe Riad Salameh


French anti-corruption judges have taken over the probe into the personal wealth of Lebanon's central bank chief, prosecutors said, raising the likelihood he may face money-laundering charges.

France opened the probe into Riad Salameh, a former Merrill Lynch banker, in May following a similar move by Switzerland, where he has been under investigation for months.

On July 2, France's Financial Prosecutor's Office (PNF) handed over its findings for judicial inquiry into allegations of aggravated money laundering, the office said on Friday.

Salameh, who owns several properties in France, is accused by critics at home of transferring money abroad during a 2019 uprising against the government, when ordinary people were prevented from doing so.

The 71-year-old has also been accused of being responsible for the collapse of the Lebanese pound, which has sent the economy into a tailspin and prompted shortages of basic items such as medicine and fuel.

The French judges can summon Salameh for questioning and collaborate with investigators in other countries, and also confiscate assets.

The inquiry was prompted by complaints filed by Swiss foundation Accountability Now, France's Sherpa anti-corruption NGO, and the Collective Association of Victims of Fraudulent and Criminal Practices in Lebanon, set up by savers devastated by the post-2019 crisis.

A lawyer for Salameh, Pierre-Olivier Sur, said his client "denies these acts in their entirety," and called for access to the investigators' findings.

In media appearances, Salameh has said he legally invested the roughly $23 million (19 million euros) he had when named central bank governor in 1993, obtained from inheritances and his work at Merrill Lynch in Beirut and Paris.

Comments 9
Thumb enterprise 17 July 2021, 15:53

"a former Merrill Lynch banker"
He was nothing at Merrill Lynch, nothing! He became the Central Bank Governor and managed the biggest Ponzi scheme in modern history. He is fake, corrupt, and incompetent. His net worth is estimated at $4 billion. Why has he not resigned considering the awful job he has done?

Thumb liberty 19 July 2021, 04:32

A fresh finance graduate would have done a better job than this incompetent corrupt self-centered failure.

Thumb ex-fpm 17 July 2021, 16:00

Riad Salameh: Lira is safe with me

Salameh reassures banks of stable lira

Missing un520 17 July 2021, 17:51

The sound of lies seems funny against the truth...

Thumb ashtah 17 July 2021, 16:13

The question is why the French judiciary is investigating him and not the Lebanese Judiciary? Is he above Lebanese laws?

Thumb 17 July 2021, 17:15

The entire world knows he’s a crook, but he’s protected by the entire Lebanese ruling because they’re all his partners.

I would not be surprised to read in the news that he got suicided a la Epstein and more recently John Mcafee.

Default-user-icon Wiseman (Guest) 17 July 2021, 17:40

I do know Salameh and know someone who directly worked with him. He was a less than mediocre man, who was brought in by Rafik Hariri for personal reasons pertaining to Rafik's plan for Lebanon. This man's fledgling years were nothing to even speak about, let alone believing in him saying that he earned millions in salaries. I believe Salameh not only should be probed in France and Switzerland, but also in Lebanon and ultimately jailed for squandering depositor's monies. All his bank accounts, as well as all his immoveable assets abroad, should be confiscated and brought back to Lebanon after liquidation. I reckon he has billions around the world reaped from fishy and scandalous deals he concocted at the central bank to prosper illicitly. In a nutshell, this man should have been arrested long ago, but he knows so much about all the corrupt politicians, that keeps him retaining his position to this date. But, his time is coming and he will rot in jail until he dies.

Default-user-icon RealLebanese (Guest) 17 July 2021, 17:51

This guy is a crook and should be brought to justice and ultimately jailed. He is the cause of Lebanon's problems. Not only was he a stupid man, he also was dangerous. But, our politicians used him to prosper on our back, and with them, he stole billions from our monies through his brother and family members. I am an ex KPMG partner and know this guy. If I am appointed, I could nail this man within days and reveal his crookery.

Default-user-icon Depositor (Guest) 18 July 2021, 00:49

A big crook whose place should be in jail for allowing more than three million depositors to have their monies confiscated by the Lebanese banks illegally, and without capital control, and is hiding all data relating to transfers outside the country that his brother, son, and himself did during and before the crisis in an illegal way. Soon, his tricks would be exposed and he would lose everything and probably jailed until he ends his life in prison. Even jailing him is less than what he deserves. He's the main crook in Lebanon for prospering on our backs and facilitating transfer of fortunes for the political elite. He should rot in jail and later in hell.