Lebanese judge accuses central bank chief of corruption

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BEIRUT (AP) — A Lebanese judge said Monday she had filed a complaint against the country’s central bank governor, accusing him of illegal enrichment and money laundering during Lebanon’s economic crisis.

Ghada Aoun, an investigative judge at the Mount Lebanon District Court, told The Associated Press that Governor Riad Salameh’s brother, Raja Salameh, who was arrested last week, was also charged with ” participated in these crimes”.

Aoun also ordered the freezing of the brother’s assets.

The move comes as the banking sector began a two-day strike on Monday to protest recent moves by Lebanon’s judiciary against local lenders. Lebanon’s economic crisis erupted in 2019 – the worst in its modern history.

Aoun said the Salameh brothers and a Ukrainian citizen had formed three illusory companies in France to buy property there. Aoun said last week that Riad Salameh used his brother to buy property in France worth nearly $12 million.

Riad Salameh, who has headed the central bank for three decades, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. He did not show up Monday morning for Aoun’s interrogation. Raja Salameh, who was arrested on Thursday, will remain in custody.

The lawsuit against the Salamehs was filed by a group of lawyers who accuse the governor of corruption.

In January, Aoun imposed a travel ban and froze some of the assets of the 71-year-old governor who is also under investigation in several European countries, including Switzerland and France, for money laundering and embezzlement. potential funds.

Riad Salameh had been running Lebanese finances since 1993, through post-war recovery and bouts of unrest. Once hailed as the guardian of Lebanon’s financial stability, he has come under increasing scrutiny since the small country’s economic collapse began in late 2019.

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