Sat 06 May 2023 1:06 pm - Jerusalem Time

A European judicial delegation listens to the Lebanese Minister of Finance as part of investigations into corruption cases

A European judicial delegation listened to the testimony of the Minister of Finance in the Lebanese caretaker government, Youssef Khalil, as part of investigations into corruption cases and pending financial transfers in his country.

The official Lebanese National News Agency said that the European judicial delegation heard Khalil's statement today, over a period of 3 hours.

The agency stated that the minister explained the nature of his previous work as director of financial operations at the Central Bank of Lebanon, and promised to submit documents that include the bank's legal texts.

She pointed out that the European delegation received documents from Raja Salameh, brother of the Governor of the Banque du Liban, Riad Salameh, and from Nada Makhlouf, an employee of the Deloitte financial auditing company, and stated that the delegation completed its current mission today.

A judicial delegation from Germany, France and Luxembourg arrived in Beirut at the beginning of May, as part of investigations it is conducting under the supervision of the Lebanese judiciary.

And a European judicial delegation had heard, in the past March and January in Beirut, within the framework of requests for judicial assistance that Lebanon received from France, Germany and Luxembourg, the testimonies of the Governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon, Riad Salameh, and 3 former deputies of the governor, directors of the Central Bank, bankers and auditors, as part of suspicions of corruption and money transfer cases that are being investigated. In which the judiciary in their countries deals with a company owned by Raja Salameh, brother of the Governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon.

Last April, the Lebanese judiciary launched an investigation into suspicions about financial transfers made by Salameh, on suspicion of his and his brother Raja’s involvement in cases of embezzlement of more than $300 million.

Last December, the Lebanese judiciary released Raja Salameh on bail, seized his real estate, and prevented him from traveling after his two-month arrest on the grounds of "money laundering and illegal enrichment."

On February 23, the Lebanese judiciary charged Riad Salameh, his assistant, and his brother with crimes of embezzlement of public funds, forgery, illegal enrichment, money laundering, and violation of tax law.

Salameh denied the accusations against him, expressing his respect for the laws and the judicial system, stressing that the accused is innocent until proven guilty.

Salameh has occupied the governorship of the Central Bank of Lebanon since 1993, after working for 20 years as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch in Beirut and Paris, and his current term is supposed to end at the end of next July.

It is noteworthy that Lebanon has been witnessing, since 2019, an economic collapse that the World Bank ranked among the worst in the world since the middle of the last century, as the country suffers from political, economic, living and health crises that led to the collapse of the value of the Lebanese pound, an increase in the poverty rate to 82%, an increase in unemployment and a shortage of basic commodities.


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A European judicial delegation listens to the Lebanese Minister of Finance as part of investigations into corruption cases