Former Central Bank Chief of Lebanon Investigated for Money Laundering and Other Crimes

Prosecutors in Germany have confirmed that Riad Salameh, the former governor of Lebanon’s central bank, is under investigation for money laundering and other crimes. An arrest warrant has been issued for Salameh, who served as the bank’s governor from 1993 to 2023. The investigation also involves Salameh’s brother, Raja, and several other suspects.

The Munich public prosecutor’s office stated that the charges being investigated include forgery, money laundering, and embezzlement. Both Salameh brothers have vehemently denied these allegations. The probe into Riad Salameh extends beyond Germany, as he is also being investigated in Lebanon and at least five other European countries. The allegations against him involve the misappropriation of hundreds of millions of dollars from Lebanon’s central bank, which has had a detrimental impact on the Lebanese state. It is further alleged that the funds were laundered abroad.

Munich’s public prosecutor’s office revealed that a portion of the misappropriated funds was channeled to Europe through a letterbox company in the British Virgin Islands and invested in real estate, including properties in Germany. As part of a joint operation with authorities from France and Luxembourg, three commercial properties in Munich and Hamburg, valued at approximately 28 million euros ($30.3 million), were seized. Additionally, shares in a Dusseldorf-based property company worth around 7 million euros ($7.5 million) were secured.

Salameh’s 30-year tenure as the central bank chief concluded in July, but he stepped down under the cloud of being wanted in Europe and facing accusations of responsibility for Lebanon’s ongoing financial crisis, which began in mid-2019. Many experts attribute the crisis to decades of corruption and mismanagement by Lebanon’s ruling parties, with Salameh being seen as a key figure in the collapse. The crisis has severely devalued the Lebanese pound and caused significant financial losses for many Lebanese citizens due to a shortage of foreign currency at banks.

Despite the mounting allegations against him, Salameh has consistently denied any wrongdoing, asserting that his wealth stems from his previous employment as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch, as well as inherited properties and investments.

Author: CrimeDoor

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