On Thursday, upon questioning the Lebanese businessman Raja Salameh, Judge Nicolas Mansour issued an arrest warrant against him and scheduled a hearing for next week for his brother Riad Salameh, the governor of Lebanon’s Central Bank.
Raja Salameh was arrested last Thursday by Judge Ghada Aoun who questioned him for hours. She then ordered his detainment on charges of illicit enrichment and embezzling involvement with his brother, Riad Salameh.
Judge Aoun followed her decision with charges against Riad Salameh this week, for corruption, money laundering, and illegal enrichment.
Her decision ensued as soon as the Swiss daily Le Temp broke the news of Riad Salameh having used a considerable amount of money from the Central Bank for personal purposes in France.
The investigations of the French authorities revealed alleged illegal enrichment and the misuse of millions of euros of Lebanon’s Central Bank by Riad Salameh for over a decade.
It includes the funding of a company managed by a Ukrainian national in France, Anna K., alleged to be the mother of his child.
The investigations by the French Central Office for the Suppression of Serious Financial Crime discovered properties, contracts in millions to the benefit of Anna’s company, and more.
Riad Salameh, who has been the head of Lebanon’s Central Bank since 1993, a position that is financially crucial for the country, has been reportedly misusing his role in the past decade or so for personal enrichment.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese economy has crashed along with the local currency, the country is financially incapacitated and reeling with crises, and the people are suffering from the capital control imposed by the banks restricting their access to their money.
The Central Bank, which is still headed by Riad Salameh, holds more than one aspect of the country’s fate.
As Lebanon faces food insecurity, its Central Bank is reportedly delaying payment to import wheat, notably from India which has agreed to supply Lebanon with its need of wheat.