Lebanese central bank chief wants judge removed from probe


Lebanon’s Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh speaks during an interview for the Reuters Next conference, in Beirut, Lebanon November 23, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

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BEIRUT, Jan 13 (Reuters) – The governor of Lebanon’s Central Bank said on Thursday that a judge leading one of several investigations against him was biased and should be removed from the case, after imposing a ban on him. travel this week.

Riad Salameh, who denies any wrongdoing for nearly three decades as head of the central bank, is being questioned in Lebanon and at least four European countries, with his role closely watched since Lebanon’s economic collapse in 2019.

Judge Ghada Aoun, who heads one of the Lebanese investigations, imposed a travel ban on Salameh on Thursday. A judicial source said his investigation covered allegations ranging from fraud to misuse of public funds. Read more

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In a statement, Salameh said he had shown respect for the judiciary by previously appearing before judges and said the purpose of the lawsuits against him was to “distort my image with public opinion in Lebanon and in the foreigner”.

Salameh, who enjoys the support of several high-profile politicians, said Aoun used his personal Twitter account in a “hostile” way against him. He also criticized other aspects of his handling of the case.

“According to the simplest rules of law, it is not possible for a judge to be both adversary and arbiter,” he said in the statement in which he says he filed a request to have Aoun of the case.

In comments carried by Lebanon’s national news agency, Aoun dismissed Salameh’s criticism, saying in particular that she had only used Twitter to list cases against the governor. She said the public has a right to know about important matters going on.

The governor has remained in office even as the economy has been crushed by huge debts, the currency has collapsed and many Lebanese have been pushed into poverty.

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Reporting by Timour Azhari; Written by Alaa Swilam and Edmund Blair; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Alistair Bell

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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