In a live televised address on Wednesday, Lebanese President Michel Aoun showed a sudden interest in the forensic audit and more than it could be said about the Beirut blast investigation.
Ripe with accusations, Aoun placed primary blame on the Central Bank of Lebanon (BDL) for the financial crisis and for stalling and delaying the forensic audit. He stated that “there is no will to go through with a forensic audit,” accusing the BDL’s stance to be “a strike to the French initiative.”
Aoun claimed that he had long foreseen the financial collapse of the country, adding that the situation became exposed on October 17th, 2019.
By that, he indicated the onset of the Lebanese Revolution, also known as the October 17 Revolution, which has been exposing ever since deeply entrenched corruption and wide negligence and actively demanding immediate actions to save the country.
However, Aoun‘s claim of having “long foreseen” the imminent financial collapse brings further to question his lack of action, as the head of state, to impede it.
“After my election as President of the Republic, I tried for three years in vain to open the door of forensic audit in order to protect the people’s deposits,” he now said.
It is to note that Aoun became president of Lebanon in October of 2016. His 3-year attempt to open that door would have ceased then in 2019.
Remarkably, that was the year the Lebanese Revolution erupted with the people taking to the streets by the masses to demand the end of corruption and immediate actions to stop the collapse. Interestingly enough, banks soon reacted by imposing their own capital control, further exacerbating the financial crisis on the people, to date.
In his speech now, Aoun made it a point to remind that the Council of Ministers decided that there will be an audit of the Central Bank on March 26th, 2020.
But what followed was a series of tactics aimed at delaying the audit, he noted, such as Central Bank governor Riad Salameh declining to answer questions sent by the firm of Alvarez & Marsal.
“It is obvious that the main goal of procrastination is to drive the firm to despair so that it leaves Lebanon, the forensic audit is doomed, and the criminals go unpunished,” he said, accusing the Central Bank and its governor.
“The fall of the audit is a strike to the French initiative because, without the audit, there is no international assistance… The forensic audit is the gateway to finding out who caused the crime of financial collapse,” Aoun declared.
He then called on the caretaker government to hold an urgent meeting on the forensic audit.
The hindering of the forensic audit is not the only problem blocking the French initiative and the international assistance. A relevant one in which he, the president, is a key player is the political conflict impeding the formation of a new government.