Alvarez & Marsal withdraws from Lebanon central bank audit – finance minister

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BEIRUT  - Restructuring consultancy Alvarez & Marsal has pulled out of a forensic audit of Lebanon's central bank because it did not receive information required to carry out the task, caretaker Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni told Reuters on Friday.The decision is a blow to Lebanon as it attempts to extricate itself from a financial crisis, rooted in endemic waste and corruption, that has crashed its currency, paralysed banks and prompted a sovereign debt default.The audit is a key demand of foreign donors and the International Monetary Fund, whose talks with the caretaker government stalled over inaction on long-demanded reforms and an internal dispute about the size of losses."The wall of corruption is very thick and very high ... Today they felled the forensic audit," tweeted caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab, who has criticised the central bank for citing bank secrecy to withhold data.A presidential statement said Wazni informed President Michel Aoun of the consultancy's decision to quit over "uncertainty it would receive the information" sought, even with a three-month extension announced on Nov. 5 to secure the data.  Alvarez & Marsal did not respond to a Reuters request for comment and Lebanon's central bank declined comment.An official source said more...