BEIRUT — Raja Salameh, brother of Banque du Liban head Riad Salameh, on Wednesday once again did not attend a hearing before a delegation of European judges, state-run National News Agency reported. This is the third time in a week that Raja Salameh has failed to appear for a scheduled hearing, according to local media.
According to a source familiar with the case and who requested anonymity, Raja Salameh was not notified of his summons on Wednesday. According to a senior judicial source who also requested anonymity, the summons notification was sent to Raja Salameh, but the competent judicial authority did not receive an acknowledgment of receipt of the summons.
Raja Salameh's lawyer requested the hearing be postponed by one day (i.e., until Thursday), local media outlets reported.
The European delegation is leading an investigation into the Salameh brothers and several of their associates on suspicion of financial wrongdoing.
The European judicial delegation continued its investigations in the case Wednesday at the Beirut Justice Palace in the presence of Beirut's first investigating judge, Charbel Abou Samra.
European investigators heard testimony from Raja Abou Asly, an official within the BDL, NNA reported on Wednesday.
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 that 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 on a historic bail of LL100 billion last May after he was arrested and charged with “complicity with illicit enrichment” following a hearing at a courthouse east of Beirut. Riad and Raja Salameh, along with Riad's former assistant Marianne Howayek, 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.