Lebanese Judge Sues Police for Protecting Central Bank Chief Suspected of Graft
A judge investigating Lebanon’s Central Bank governor for corruption and money laundering has sued the country’s police chief after his officers reportedly prevented another law enforcement agency from executing a subpoena to bring Governor Riad Salame in for questioning.
Judge Ghada Aoun issued the subpoena after Salame, who also faces a travel ban, failed to show up to three hearings. He has been accused of embezzlement, wasting public funds, illegal enrichment and money laundering.
State Security officers were sent on Tuesday to look for Salame at his Beirut office and two of his homes but, according to the judge, police prevented them from bringing him in.
In a statement police denied the accusations which came after local and regional media had initially reported that State Security officers could not find Salame and that he was in fact “on the run.”
After requesting an explanation as to why officers were unable to bring Salame in, judge Aoun accused the police chief of “fighting authorities and preventing the implementation of a judicial order.”
Meanwhile, accusations continue to mount against Salame, who is the subject of judicial probes not only in Lebanon, but also in Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein, while the U.K. is reviewing his assets.
OCCRP and its Lebanese media partner, Daraj, uncovered a vast network of offshore companies tied to Salame, his family members and associates in two investigations.
The first, published in August 2020, revealed how offshore companies owned by Salame have invested in overseas assets worth nearly US$100 million.
The second, from December of the same year, revealed how a company tied to Salame bought a stake in his son’s London-based wealth management company, before selling it to a major Lebanese bank that he regulates.
Salame has consistently denied any wrongdoing, dismissing the allegations as “fabrications and fake news.”