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Financial crime allegations

Legal complaint in France targets Lebanon’s central bank governor, anti-financial crime NGO says

Legal complaint in France targets Lebanon’s central bank governor, anti-financial crime NGO says

Lebanon’s central bank Gov. Riad Salameh speaks during a news conference at BDL in Beirut in November 2019. (Credit: Mohamed Azakir/Reuters)

BEIRUT/PARIS — Non-profit organization Sherpa and a group of lawyers have filed a legal complaint to France’s financial prosecutor against Lebanese central bank Gov. Riad Salameh over alleged corruption and money laundering, an official at the anti-financial crime NGO said on Monday.

Sherpa said in a statement that the legal complaint, filed on Friday, was over “suspicious” real estate purchases in France and that the aim was to return the property to the Lebanese people.

The complaint covers millions of euros worth of property assets in France and also targets Salameh’s brothers and an associate, said Laura Rousseau, head of the illicit financial flows program at Sherpa, in comments to Reuters.

Lebanon’s central bank chief said on Monday his properties in France were all acquired prior to him being appointed governor. Salameh said he had declared his source of wealth and shown documents “on many occasions” before that prove he was worth $23 million in 1993, prior to his appointment.

In a statement, Sherpa said: “The complaint lodged not only targets money laundering in connection with the outsourcing of considerable capital from the fall 2019 crisis, but also the suspicious circumstances under which some very luxurious real estate in France has been acquired by private or public Lebanese officials in recent years.”

Its statement did not identify any individuals.

France’s National Financial Prosecutor was not immediately available for comment.

Lebanon’s financial and political elite have long been under scrutiny over allegations of mismanagement, corruption and obstructing efforts to unlock international aid.

It is the latest complaint filed on suspected Lebanese corruption to authorities in Europe.

Sherpa said it had filed the complaint with the Collective Association of Victims of Fraudulent and Criminal Practices in Lebanon.

“At the end of this affair, France will have to ensure that ill-gotten funds will be returned to serve the general interest, improve the living conditions of the Lebanese, strengthen the rule of law and fight against corruption,” the statement said. 


BEIRUT/PARIS — Non-profit organization Sherpa and a group of lawyers have filed a legal complaint to France’s financial prosecutor against Lebanese central bank Gov. Riad Salameh over alleged corruption and money laundering, an official at the anti-financial crime NGO said on Monday.Sherpa said in a statement that the legal complaint, filed on Friday, was over “suspicious” real estate...