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On January 11th, 2022, Banque du Liban Governor Riad SALAMEH was slapped with a travel ban. Mount Lebanon Public Prosecutor Judge Ghada AOUN issued yesterday a travel ban against SALAMEH.

AOUN’s ban comes in response to a complaint submitted by the “People Want to Reform the System” group, represented by lawyers Haitham EZZO and Pierre GEMAYEL, and prohibits SALAMEH from leaving the country via sea, land or air. Lebanon’s central bank governor is under growing criticism for his involvement in the country’s protracted financial crisis. In November 2021, Lichtenstein was the latest jurisdiction to launch an inquiry into SALAMEH’s suspicious financial practices, joining France, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

The Lebanese prosecutor said the next stage of her probe would be to question the governor. A judicial source said the travel ban was pursuant to a lawsuit filed by an activist group against SALAMEH over alleged financial misconduct.

The decision came after she questioned a number of senior central bank employees” the source added. Lebanon opened a local probe into SALAMEH’s wealth last year, after the Swiss attorney general requested assistance in an investigation into more than $300 million which SALAMEH allegedly embezzled out of the central bank with the help of his brother, Raja. SALAMEH has repeatedly denied the charge.

On January 11, 2022, the prosecutor Jean TANNOUS, accompanied by security forces, visited some of commercial banks to demand bank statements relating to SALAMEH’s brother as part of the investigation.

SALAMEH has repeatedly denied he engaged in any wrongdoing during his nearly three decades at the helm of the Banque du Liban. He says the allegations against him are politically motivated and that his personal wealth was amassed before he became central bank governor.

On December, 2021, Prime Minister MIKATI was asked if he plans to remove SALAMEH from the post. MIKATI responded: “During wars you don’t change officers.”

Lebanon’s economy has been in a free-fall state since former Prime Minister Saad HARIRI announced his own resignation and that of his cabinet in October 2019. The Lebanese pound has continued to plummet against the US dollar, losing 90 % of its value in just two years while sources of foreign currency have dried up. The current crisis is the most serious issue threatening the country’s stability since a 15-year civil war ended in 1990.



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