In an article published by Asharq Al Awsat newspaper, a statement made by the financial expert Dr. Marwan Iskander discusses the transfer of billions of dollars outside Lebanon in a span of 15 to 60 days.
Even though it has been said that Dr. Iskander reported the total amount to be 6.5 billion dollars, he clarified that there was a misunderstanding in the figures he had reported to the Lebanese judiciary. According to his interview with Asharq Al Awsat, the money was normally transferred and not smuggled as being rumored.
Dr. Iskandar also mentioned that a Swiss official told him that the transferred funds amounted to two billion dollars, and they belong to 9 Lebanese politicians. "The risk lies in the fact that the amounts were transferred in the last 15 days; that is, at the height of the liquidity crisis," he pointed out.
He stressed that the Swiss parliament has begun a serious investigation into this matter and they will publish the results of their investigation once it is completed. Dr. Iskander also claims that the Lebanese officials will not obtain information before the end of the Swiss probe.
A judicial authority confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that intensive investigations started on Friday, December 27, 2019, by the Lebanese Central Criminal Investigation Department and under the direct supervision of Attorney General Ghassan Aouidat.
The judicial source also explained that the investigation began by listening to the information given by financial expert Marwan Iskander, and pointed out that matters are being followed up and need further investigations in cooperation with the Central Bank and the Banking Supervision Committee.
The case of money transferral has been speculated for weeks. However, it has been highlighted upon the 2020 State Budget and brought to the open with statements by the Chairman of the parliamentary Finance and Budget Committee, caretaker MP Ibrahim Kenaan, and Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh, as well as caretaker MP Hassan Fadlallah.
MP Kenaan revealed that $6 billion were withdrawn from banks by depositors due to financial concerns. Another $6.5 billion are suspected to have been transferred abroad by a number of politicians.
However, MP Hasan Fadlallah had stated a higher number than the one mentioned by MP Kanaan, "We are talking about $11 billion." He also stated that the return of these funds transferred abroad will solve Lebanon's liquidity problem.
Even though the reported figures significantly differ from one source to the other, it has become certain that billions of dollars have been transferred abroad by Lebanese politicians.
According to Riad Salameh, all legal measures will be taken to investigate the money transfers to Switzerland in 2019 "if they truly happened," as he said.
These transfers of substantial funds have occurred while the Lebanese people are struggling through the harshest economic crisis, capital control has been imposed on the people, the banks are holding onto the people's money, and the country is edging a collapse at all levels.
All while the current political rulers seem frozen in time unable to even form a new government, let alone deal with the crises and save the country and its people.