Beirut Judge Dismisses Riad Salameh’s Defenses

Lebanese Judge Will Question Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh
Bloomberg/Hasan Shaaban

The Governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon, Riad Salameh, is set to be questioned later this year over a lawsuit filed against him by a group of lawyers.

Criminal Judge in Beirut Lara Abdel Samad issued on Wednesday a decision that dismisses the formal defenses submitted by Salameh in regards to the lawsuit filed against him by lawyers at the legal department of The People Want to Reform the System activist group.

The lawsuit, which was filed during the summer of 2020, accuses the Governor of the Central Bank of the alleged crimes of Articles 319, 320, 359, 360, 363, and 373 of the Penal Code.

These are summarized in undermining the financial position of the state, breaching job duties, job negligence and default, investing in a public job, and committing fraud and gross wrongdoing in the management of money belonging to a public person.

Judge Abdel Samad also set October 13th as the date to question Salameh.

The lawyers behind the lawsuit – Hasan Bazzi, Haitham Ezzo, Jad Tohme, Joseph Wanis, Pierre El-Gemayel, Francois Kamel, Bassel Abbas, and Journalist Joey Haddad – had stated earlier that they would continue the fight of opening “all files of banking and financial corruption.”

They said this process starts with holding the central bank governor accountable and end with “all the beneficiaries of his financial engineering, including the corrupt in the ruling class.”

This lawsuit came in parallel with another legal action filed by United for Lebanon against Salameh back in July 2020, for various allegations, including “unlawful procedures” over the years, which have “harmed Lebanon’s financial stability” and purchasing large amounts of dollars from money changers at a high price, “in exchange for printing large amounts of the national currency to cover the exchange of millions of dollars…”

Salameh has repeatedly come under fire as Lebanese public opinion has blamed him for the financial crisis that Lebanon is going through.

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