BEIRUT — The Lebanese state represented by the head of the committee of cases at the Justice Ministry, Judge Helena Iskandar, has lodged a complaint against Banque Du Liban's Governor Riad Salameh and his brother Raja, the state-run National News Agency reported Wednesday.
The move comes as Lebanon hopes not to lose assets to litigation against the central bank chief abroad on charges of embezzlement.
According to the state-run National News Agency (NNA), the committee of cases filed their complaint on charges of bribery, fraud, money laundering and embezzlement, and tax evasion. Salameh's assistant, Mariane Hoyek, is also targeted by this procedure, as is everyone else that the investigation proves to be involved in the case.
Iskandar asked for the arrest of those involved, the seizure of their properties and the freezing of their bank accounts, along with those of their spouses and children.
The Lebanese state's complaint against the Salamehs coincided with a hearing of Riad Salameh scheduled for Wednesday morning by Judge Charbel Abou Samra. At the hearing, the Banque du Liban head was expected to answer questions from a delegation of European judges also investigating him for financial wrongdoing. However, according to the NNA, Salameh did not attend the hearing.
A judicial source close to the case told L'Orient-Le Jour that Salameh's lawyer submitted an explanatory memo to the Court of Cassation to try to prevent the European judges from attending the session.
Judge Abou Samra sent the document to the Court of Cassation, which authorized him to rule on the matter. The judge then decided to authorize the European judges' attendance and delayed the hearing until Thursday.
A delegation of French, German and Luxembourgian judges held a series of hearings in Lebanon in January as part of their investigation into Salameh — who is the subject of at least five European probes.
Abou Samra scheduled the hearing last month after leveling a barrage of charges against Salameh, his brother Raja and one of his assistants. Salameh is accused of embezzling funds from the sale of BDL assets — which according to Swiss media, were placed between a dozen banks in Switzerland — through the brokerage company Forry Associates, which lists his brother Raja as an economic beneficiary.
CORRECTION: This article has been edited to clarify that the committee of cases filed a complaint against the Salameh brothers and Mariane Hoyek, and did not press charges against them as an earlier version of this article erroneously stated.