Lebanese PM backs central bank governor despite corruption investigations


Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Tuesday central bank governor Riad Salameh is expected to remain in office for now, signaling continued political support for him despite investigations into embezzlement at home and abroad .

“You don’t change your officers during a war,” Mikati said at a press conference referring to Mr. Salameh, adding that he would await the results of investigations by judicial authorities in Switzerland and elsewhere.

Mr. Salameh has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Mr. Mikati, a billionaire tycoon, said the investigations against Mr. Salameh were “used in politics”.

Mr. Salameh’s tenure as governor has come under increased scrutiny since 2019, when Lebanon collapsed in a financial collapse that caused the currency to drop by about 95% and spike the economy. poverty.

Mr. Salameh, who has overseen the financial system for three decades, continues to enjoy political support from other powerful actors in Lebanon, including Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri.

Mr Salameh is the subject of an investigation by authorities in at least four European countries, including a Swiss investigation into alleged “aggravated money laundering” at the central bank involving $ 300 million in earnings by a company owned by his brother, Raja Salameh.

In November, Mr Salameh said he ordered an audit of the transactions and investments that had been the subject of media reports and that this had shown that no public funds had been used to pay. fees and commissions to the company owned by his brother. Raja Salameh has not publicly commented on the accusation.

Mikati also called for a national dialogue on foreign policy and improved relations with the Gulf countries.

Mikati’s government, which aims to resume talks with the International Monetary Fund to unlock much-needed foreign aid, has not met since Oct. 12 due to dispute over an investigation into the explosion catastrophic impact of the Port of Beirut last year.

Mr Mikati said he would not call a meeting that could lead the government to defeat.

Update: December 29, 2021, 5:08 am


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