Days after the Lebanese judiciary received an international arrest warrant issued by a French judge against the governor of the Central Bank, Riad Salameh, the same judiciary summoned Salama’s brother and his assistant, while continuing his investigation into allegations of embezzlement and money laundering against Salameh.
Salama, his assistant, and his brother, Raja, face investigations in Lebanon, France, and other countries for allegedly taking hundreds of millions of funds from the Central Bank, but the brothers deny any wrongdoing.
A hearing for Riad Salameh’s brother
France has set a hearing in Paris for Raja on the 31st of this month, and for his assistance on the 13th of next June, according to what Reuters quoted a close source.
A Lebanese judicial source confirmed to Reuters that the Lebanese judiciary had received the summons and was working to hand it over.
Last week, France issued an arrest warrant for Salama, 72, after he refused to attend his hearing in Paris. The International Police Service (Interpol) subsequently issued a Red Notice.
A senior judicial official said on Friday: “The Interpol office in Lebanon received, last Thursday evening, a copy of the French memorandum that was circulated through the International Interpol through the Red Notice, which requests the arrest of Salameh and his handover to the French judicial authorities.”
Governmental concern about the international arrest warrant
In the context, the Minister of Justice in the caretaker government, Henry Khoury, stated that he feared that more foreign countries would follow the example of France and direct their accusations against Salameh, asking: “What are the repercussions of this rolling on the Lebanese reality, in monetary and financial terms?”
Khoury added, in press statements, “This is why the ruler must realize this matter and resign on his own.”
Thus, Khoury added his voice to those of the deputy prime minister in the caretaker government and the interior minister, who said last week that Salameh should step down.
Two government sources told Reuters that a consultative meeting between ministers will be held on Monday to discuss how the charges against Salameh will affect the Lebanese state and the legal options it may have to dismiss him.
Raja and Riyad have already been charged in two separate cases in Lebanon related to embezzlement and other financial crimes.
According to a judicial source told “Agence France Presse”, if the accusations, which vary between money laundering and illegal enrichment, are proven, “a safety trial will take place in Lebanon.”
This year, European investigators from France, Luxembourg, Germany and Belgium came three times to Lebanon, where they heard Salameh and other witnesses in his case, including his brother Raja, former employees of the Banque du Liban and officials of commercial banks.
The European investigations focus on the relationship between the Banque du Liban and the “Fore Associates” company, which is registered in the Virgin Islands and has an office in Beirut, and the economic beneficiary is the ruler’s brother.
It is believed that the company played the role of intermediary to purchase treasury bonds and Eurobonds from the Banque du Liban by receiving a subscription commission, which was transferred to Raja Salameh’s accounts abroad.
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