Lebanese Central Bank Governor, Riad Salameh, has announced that he plans to step down from his position after his term expires later this year, ending a 30-year tenure marked by controversial policies blamed for the country’s financial collapse.
Salameh, who is also the target of international probes into money laundering and embezzlement, stated in a recent interview that he will not seek a new term.
The outgoing governor has maintained his innocence and claims to have proof to support his case.
Salameh’s departure marks a new chapter in a crisis labeled as one of the worst globally by the World Bank. He played a crucial role in maintaining Lebanon’s currency peg for over two decades before it fell apart in late 2019.
The country defaulted on $30 billion in international debt and experienced a significant economic meltdown, with a combination of high inflation and a currency collapse wiping out people’s savings.
The crisis put a spotlight on the policies overseen by Salameh, including the financial engineering that the central bank began in 2016.
His decision not to seek another term could add even more volatility by forcing politicians to find a candidate for a position reserved for the Maronite Christian community, as per Lebanon’s sectarian power-sharing arrangement.
The vacancy in one of the country’s most high-profile posts will increase pressure on authorities to name a successor.
Salameh is facing corruption allegations, including a joint investigation by France, Germany, and Luxembourg probing money laundering and embezzling of public funds in Lebanon between 2002 and 2021.
Swiss authorities are also investigating allegations that he benefited from the sale of Lebanese Eurobonds held by the central bank.
Salameh has repeatedly denied the allegations and claims that they are part of a media campaign to tarnish his image.