On May 14th, 2020, the financial prosecutor Judge Ali Ibrahim issued a warrant for the arrest of Mazen Hamdan, the director of monetary operations at Lebanon’s Central Bank, as part of the investigation of the manipulation of the exchange rate, reported Al Joumhouria.
The Lebanese currency has abruptly lost over 50% of its value. Currently, the lira, which had been stable at 1,500 pounds per dollar is now at 4,200 pounds per dollar.
القاضي علي ابراهيم امر بتوقيف مدير العمليات النقدية في #مصرف_لبنان مازن حمدان في ملف اللعب بسعر صرف الدولار….ووو #رياض_سلامة ؟!!! ومن وراء رياض ؟!!!— Ali Hammoud (@DrAliHammoud2) May 14, 2020
Investigations made previously revealed that Hamdan had sold dollars to different money changers at 3,200 pounds, which is the price set by the central bank. This means the exchangers were forced to sell it at a higher price.
Hamdan was arrested in the afternoon after two days of interrogation, according to Al Joumhouria. Investigations in this file are to be continued.
Based on the newspaper, BDL employees have announced a strike on Monday, May 18th, to denounce Hamdan’s arrest.
اعتقال مسؤول كبير في #مصرف_لبنان المركزي بتهمة التلاعب بسعر الصرف#شاهد_سكاي #لبنان pic.twitter.com/7rl2pLu26tMay 15, 2020
According to Leb Now, journalist Radwan Mourtada reported that Mazen Hamdan informed the judge during the investigation that he was following the orders of the Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh but that the judge didn’t believe him.
الصحافي رضوان مرتضى : مدير العمليات النقدية في مصرف لبنان مازن حمدان أبلغ القاضي المالي علي ابراهيم أنه باع و اشترى الدولار بأوامر من الحاكم رياض سلامة إلا أن القاضي ابراهيم لم يصدقه و ختم التحقيق— LEB NOW⚡ (@leb_now) May 15, 2020
Last week, Lebanon saw the arrest of the head of the Syndicate of Money Changers, Mahmoud Mrad. Clearly, the crackdown continues.