Alvarez & Marsal Just Canceled Forensic Auditing Contract With Lebanon

Dalati Nohra

Alvarez & Marsal canceled its contract with the Lebanese government to conduct forensic auditing of the Central Bank’s accounts after BDL persisted in its refusal to provide the firm with the necessary information, Caretaker Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni said on Friday.

“Alvarez and Marsal informed us that the agreement with it had been terminated for the forensic audit of the BDL’s accounts,” Wazni issued after briefing President Michel Aoun about the company’s decision.

Alvarez & Marsal is a global professional services firm notable for its work in turnaround management and performance improvement of a number of large, high-profile businesses both in the US and abroad.

Wazni said that he was surprised by Alvarez & Marsal’s decision to terminate the contract although the firm has been warning that it will do so if BDL doesn’t hand over the required documents.

“We agreed earlier with the company to extend the contract for another three months to allow Parliament to pass a law to freeze the banking secrecy for one year to enable Alvarez & Marsal to conduct the forensic auditing of BDL without any excuses,” the Caretaker Finance Minister said earlier today.

However, Wazni revealed that the company informed him yesterday that it does want to continue this work because they are confident that BDL will not provide the information.

“I don’t know what will happen now. We have a meeting in a couple of days to examine other alternatives,” Wazni explained.

The audit was a central demand for international donors, led by France, to enable the delivery of financial assistance and allow progress on a loan deal with the International Monetary Fund. Both are seen as essential to help Lebanon through its worst economic meltdown in decades. 

The termination of the contract is a big setback for the authorities to uncover any suspicious accounts at BDL.