French justice issues international arrest warrant against Lebanese banker

Riad Salamé, Governor of Banque du Liban, at a press conference in Beirut on November 11, 2019.

The governor of the Banque du Liban (BDL), Riad Salamé, is now targeted by an international arrest warrant issued by the French courts. Aude Buresi, the investigating judge in charge of the investigation into the European heritage of the governor of the BDL, issued this measure on Tuesday, May 16, after her refusal to go to a hearing at the Paris court. It will be worth indictment at the time of its referral to a French court. The 72-year-old Lebanese moneymaker and his entourage are also under investigation in Lebanon and at least five other European countries, on suspicion of money laundering and “illicit enrichment”, for the alleged embezzlement hundreds of millions of dollars from the central bank to the detriment of the state.

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Mr. Salamé, who has always denied these accusations, announced that he would appeal the decision, which he qualified, in a press release, as “flagrant violation of the law”. “An international arrest warrant, of which I learned of the existence through the press, thus issued on the basis of a summons manifestly out of time and an ault: we will seize the competent courts”told the World his Parisian lawyer, Mr.e Pierre-Olivier Sur. Mr. Salamé will be able to appeal his indictment on the day it is formally notified to him. On the other hand, it is not possible to appeal an arrest warrant.

The French magistrate herself considered that this measure was “necessary and proportionate”a French judicial source told Agence France-Presse (AFP). “The judge gave Riad Salamé every chance to explain himself in Lebanon, as in Paris. Until the last moment, he pursued a cynical strategy of contempt, inventing grotesque pretexts on the legal level with the support of facilitators who are none other than certain Lebanese magistrates who spit on Lebanon’s obligations to cooperate with France. The judge drew the consequencessalute M.e William Bourdon, lawyer for the Sherpa ociation and the Collective of victims of fraudulent and criminal practices in Lebanon, civil parties.

Judicial imbroglio

The lawyer sees as a delaying tactic the challenge by the defense of the validity of the summons. Me Pierre-Olivier Sur argues that the summons was null and void because it was sent less than ten days before the scheduled date of the hearing. By a judicial imbroglio of which Lebanon has the secret, it never reached the person concerned. For four consecutive days last week, Lebanese police went to the BDL headquarters to hand it over to him. They were each time greeted by the security manager who informed them of the” absence “ by M. Salame.

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