BEIRUT — Banque du Liban (BDL) governor Riad Salameh issued a statement Friday commenting on his hearing as part of European investigations into his alleged financial wrongdoing.
A first hearing took place Thursday and lasted for several hours. The hearing was conducted by the first investigating judge in Beirut, Charbel Abu Samra, in the presence of European judges. Salameh appeared as a witness, a judicial source told AFP.
The second hearing took place Friday and lasted about three hours, during which the BDL governor was asked approximately 100 questions, according to AFP.
"I attended the hearing, to which I was summoned by Judge Abu Samra, without the presence of a lawyer because I was summoned as a witness and not as an accused person or a suspect," Salameh said in a statement following the hearing. "I presented myself out of respect for the law and for the judges. I expressed reservations about the presence of Judge [Helena] Iskandar, as she is the opposing party and has interfered in the Lebanese investigation against me. My reservations stem from the principle of fairness between the parties."
On Wednesday, the Lebanese state filed a complaint against Salameh and his brother, Raja Salameh. The state was represented by the head of the litigation department within the Ministry of Justice, Judge Helene Iskandar. The complaint came amid concerns that a foreign trial against Salameh, who is accused of embezzlement, could jeopardize state assets.
In his statement, Salameh also said BDL funds were not used to pad his own accounts in the Forry Associates Ltd. case or the case of money transfers abroad.
According to a judicial source interviewed by L'Orient-Le Jour, the questions asked by European judges on Thursday and Friday focused mainly on the case of the company Forry Associates Ltd, transfers of funds between Lebanon and abroad, as well as Salameh's real estate properties.
The judicial source ruled out the possibility of a new hearing for the BDL's governor by European judges, who are expected to return to Beirut at the end of April to hear Raja Salameh and his former assistant, Marianne Hoyek.
The two have also been summoned as part of an investigation in Lebanon into more than $300 million in suspicious money laundering.
"I have felt, for more than two years, a bad faith and a thirst to initiate proceedings against me," Riad Salameh said Friday, thrusting blame onto the media, lawyers, politicians and civil society groups.
Salemeh, who became BDL governor in 1993, is widely believed to be one of the main people responsible for Lebanon's detrimental financial crisis.
The governor is the subject of a series of judicial investigations both in Lebanon and abroad on suspicions of money laundering and "illicit enrichment."
He has been summoned numerous times after a series of complaints and investigations, but still categorically denies all accusations against him.
BEIRUT — Banque du Liban (BDL) governor Riad Salameh issued a statement Friday commenting on his hearing as part of European investigations into his alleged financial wrongdoing.A first hearing took place Thursday and lasted for several hours. The hearing was conducted by the first investigating judge in Beirut, Charbel Abu Samra, in the presence of European judges. Salameh appeared as a...