BEIRUT — Raja Salameh, brother of Banque Du Liban governor Riad Salameh, did not attend the Tuesday hearing before a delegation of European judges due to health reasons, the state-run National News Agency (NNA) reported. Visiting the country for the third time, the delegation is leading an investigation against the Salameh brothers and several of their associates on suspicions of corruption.
According to the NNA, Salameh's lawyer submitted a health report to the judges to justify his absence.
A source at the Palace of Justice who requested anonymity confirmed to L'Orient-Le Jour that Raja Salameh was hospitalized Monday night in Beirut. He has since been released from the hospital but has a medical report to rest for a week.
The French, German and Luxembourger investigators are also expected to question Riad Salameh’s former assistant Marianne Hoayek later this week and BDL and banking sector officials next week.
Riad Salameh is suspected of having embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of commissions from the sale of BDL assets through a Virgin Islands-registered company which lists his brother Raja, as a beneficiary.
Several European real estate assets and bank accounts linked to Salameh are suspected to have been funded through embezzled funds. Raja Salameh was released at a historic bail of LL100 billion last May after he was charged and arrested for “complicity with illicit enrichment” following a hearing at a courthouse east of Beirut. Riad and Raja Salameh along with Hoayek face local charges for bribery, forgery and use of forgeries, money laundering, illicit enrichment and tax evasion.
The French judiciary last week notified Salameh that they intend to formally name him as a suspect in a May hearing in Paris, on claims that he submitted doctored bank statements provided by AM Bank chairman Marwan Kheireddine who is also a suspect in the case. Kheireddine returned to Lebanon on Sunday. European investigators heard Kheireddine during their first visit to Beirut in January and questioned Salameh as a witness during their second visit in March — which according to Salameh’s lawyer creates an “insurmountable gap” for naming him as a suspect.