Swiss probe Lebanon’s central bank chief over alleged $300m embezzlement

  • Date: 24-Apr-2021
  • Source: Financial Times
  • Sector:Economy
  • Country:Lebanon
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Swiss probe Lebanon’s central bank chief over alleged $300m embezzlement

Switzerland's attorney-general is investigating allegations that Lebanon's central bank governor and his brother embezzled more than $300m from that institution through transactions to a mysterious offshore company.

"Since April 2002 at least, it appears the central bank governor, Riad Salame, with help from his brother, Raja Salame, organised embezzlement operations,“‰.“‰.“‰.“‰exceeding $300m to the detriment of the Banque du Liban [BdL],“ the Swiss attorney-general's office wrote in a letter to the Lebanese authorities requesting mutual legal assistance.

The letter, sent in November last year, was leaked and is publicly available online on a Lebanese news site. A Lebanese official confirmed the authenticity of the letter. The Swiss attorney-general's office confirmed to the FT a "criminal investigation into suspicions of aggravated money laundering“‰.“‰.“‰.“‰in connection with possible embezzlement to the detriment of the Banque du Liban“, and that it had requested help from Lebanese "competent authorities“. It declined to comment further.

In an interview with the FT this week, the central banker did not deny the transactions took place. But he said "not one dollar that was in the operations you mention was at the detriment of the BdL,“ adding: "all these transactions were approved by the [BdL's] central board“.

It is the latest scandal to hit