French anti-corruption judges have taken over the probe into the personal wealth of Lebanon’s central bank chief, Riad Salameh, who has French citizenship. The official could face charges of money laundering.
According to Al Arabiya News, France’s Financial Prosecutor’s Office has referred the case for judicial inquiry into money laundering.
Salameh, who owns real estate in France, is accused of transferring money abroad during an uprising against the Lebanese government in 2019, while ordinary citizens were deprived of such an opportunity.
Salameh, 71, is also accused of the collapse of the Lebanese pound, which led to the country’s economic crisis.
For his part, Salameh told the press that he legally invested $ 23 million from his inheritance and his work at the Central Bank of Lebanon, as well as at Merrill Lynch Bank in Beirut and Paris.
The investigation 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, which was created by depositors who went bankrupt during the 2019 crisis. The plaintiffs believe that Salameh’s worldwide total wealth amounts to more than $2 billion.