Ill-gotten gains: an international arrest warrant against the governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon

Riad Salamé formally implicated. The French investigating judge in charge of the investigation into the European ets of the Governor of the Banque du Lebanon issued an international arrest warrant on Tuesday for him after he refused to appear for questioning in Paris.

Riad Salamé was summoned Tuesday morning for an interrogation with a view to a possible indictment. His lawyer indicated that he had not shown up because his summons had not been made according to the rules. Me Pierre-Olivier Sur had indicated that “by having sent the summons less than 10 days before the scheduled date of the interrogation, the texts were not respected. The invitation is therefore null and void. It is unstoppable”.

A Lebanese judicial source had already indicated on Monday that the all powerful governor of the lebanese central bank should not be present in Paris, because the authorities of the country of the Cedar had not succeeded in giving him a summons. Lebanese police went for four consecutive days last week to the headquarters of the BDL to issue the summons, without success, the source said.

” Abuse of rights “

After this refusal to appear, the French magistrate had two options: to reconvene Riad Salamé or to issue an arrest warrant. She therefore chose the second, formally implicating Riad Salamé for the first time in this judicial investigation opened in France since July 2021. a pure and simple abuse of rights, ”reacted Me Pierre-Olivier Sur. Lebanon does not extradite its nationals, but it applies foreign court decisions concerning them.

At 72, the governor of the Lebanese Central Bank is suspected of having built up a rich real estate and banking heritage in Europe through a complex financial arrangement and mive embezzlement of Lebanese public funds. He denies these accusations.

Since the beginning of the year, European judges, including the French judge who issued an international arrest warrant on Tuesday, have traveled to Lebanon three times to question him and his relatives. At least two indictments were pronounced in the French investigation: Anna K., a very close friend of Riad Salamé, suspected of being one of his nominees in France; And Marwan Kheireddineformer Lebanese minister and current boss of the private bank al-Mawarid.

120 million euros in frozen ets

In March 2022, France, Germany and Luxembourg froze 120 million euros in Lebanese ets suspected of belonging to the governor of the BDL. The Paris Court of Appeal must also examine on May 23 the validity of seizures in Europe of property that would belong to Riad Salamé.

“Salamé’s wide evasion is commensurate with his cynicism and his refusal to ume any responsibility (…). One day or another, he will be arrested, ”said Me William Bourdon, lawyer for the Sherpa ociation and the Collective of Victims of Fraudulent and Criminal Practices in Lebanon (CPVCL), civil parties. The lawyer also questioned “a systematic obstruction of certain Lebanese magistrates, in total contradiction with their obligations vis-à-vis France”.

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