The Governor of the central bank of Lebanon, Riad Salameh, is accused of embezzling between $300 million and $500 million, a substantial amount of which has reportedly landed in the accounts of 12 Swiss banks.
These allegations were published by Swiss weekly, SonntagsZeitung, on Sunday.
A Lebanese judge has recently initiated new proceedings against Salameh, along with his brother Raja and former assistant Marianne Hoayek, for “embezzlement of public funds” and “money laundering.”
These charges follow several existing judicial investigations in Lebanon and abroad into suspicions of money laundering and “illicit enrichment” by the Governor of Banque du Liban (BDL) – which he denies.
Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (Finma) has also been conducting preliminary investigations into 12 Swiss banks “for months,” related to the “Lebanese context.” According to a spokesperson, proceedings have been initiated against two financial institutions, but their names have not been made public.
SonntagsZeitung reported that Raja Salameh’s personal account at HSBC in Geneva received a deposit of $250 million, with additional funds deposited at UBS, Credit Suisse, Julius Baer, EFG, and Pictet.
The transactions were facilitated by an offshore company, Forry Associates, registered in the British Virgin Islands in 2001. The weekly also reveals that significant amounts of money were used to purchase real estate in several European countries.
In 2021, Lebanon began an investigation into the assets of Salameh, after receiving a request for assistance from the attorney general in Switzerland in relation to investigations into over $300 million in fund movements made by the Governor and his brother Raja.