BDL’s Governor Is Reportedly The Main Suspect In EU’s Money Laundering Probe

Joseph Eid

The Lebanese Central Bank Governor, Riad Salameh, is one of the main suspects in the money laundering investigations by Germany, France, and Luxemburg over alleged embezzlement of $330 million.

On March 25th, French, German, and Luxemburg authorities froze assets with the sum of 120 million euros ($132 million) in an investigation involving five suspects, according to The EU Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for Munich prosecutors told Bloomberg that Riad Salameh is one of the suspects.

The probe is based on millions in money embezzling public funds in Lebanon between 2002 and 2021. Five properties in Germany and France were seized and assets were frozen.

Early last week, French investigations reportedly showed that Riad Salameh had used Banque Du Liban (BDL)’s funds for private purposes in France.

The investigations reported by Le Temps, a Swiss newspaper, had shown that between 2010 and 2021, Lebanon’s Central Bank paid 5 million euros to a company managed by Anna K., who claimed to be the mother of Riad Salameh‘s child.

The investigation led them to an apartment in Paris owned by her, and a sum of 16 million euros.

The police also found an amendment to a contract signed between Salameh and Anna K. It includes an “executed” payment of 4.8 million euros to Anna K.’s company by the BDL between 2010 and 2021.

The French probe also discovered monthly rents for 5 offices, fixed by two contracts with the sum of 37,523 euros to Efficice, which is three times more than the rental price of other customers in the same rental building.

Other documents seized by the French judiciary indicate financial links between Anna K. and his brother Raja Salamehwho was recently arrested in Beirut with charges of Illicit enrichment and alleged embezzling involvement with his brother.

According to Bloomberg, Salameh denied all the allegations against him and said that they are part of a media campaign to “tarnish his image”, adding that his fortune was collected during his career at a private bank at Merrill Lynch.

The Central Bank Governor has been the center of other investigations, namely in Lebanon, FranceLuxemburg, and Switzerland for alleged money laundering.

Last week, the Attorney General in Mount Lebanon, Judge Ghada Aoun, filed charges of illegal enrichment and money laundering against him. As of yet, Salameh remains in his position as the head of Lebanon’s Central Bank.