BEIRUT — Lebanon received a red notice from Interpol issued against Baque du Liban (BDL) Governor Riad Salameh, the Interior Ministry confirmed to L'Orient Today on Friday.
The red notice follows an international arrest warrant for Salameh, which was issued by a French judge on Tuesday. Salameh is the subject of multiple criminal investigations for financial wrongdoings, in both Lebanon and Europe.
"The minister transferred the red notice to the judicial authorities this morning," a spokesperson for caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said Friday.
In an interview with Reuters, Mawlawi said the Interpol red notice was issued Wednesday, but Lebanon's Justice Ministry received it the following morning.
"Whatever the judiciary says, we will do," Mawlawi said, adding he believes it is "necessary" for Salameh to resign.
Lebanon's caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Saade Chami called on the BDL governor to step down on Thursday.
Mawlawi added that the issue would be discussed at a consultative cabinet meeting on Monday but was already part of talks among the country's senior leaders.
"It's being seriously discussed," Mawlawi said.
The Public Prosecution Office at the Court of Cassation received a copy of the Interpol red notice, the state-run National News Agency reported Friday. Judge Ghassan Oueidat has reportedly begun reviewing the notice and is due to set a hearing date for Salameh next week.
Interviewed by L'Orient-Le Jour, international law expert Abdo Ghossoub stated that "the red notice is an international wanted notice issued on the basis of an arrest warrant. By this means, Interpol asks the police authorities of countries around the world to locate a person with a view to arresting him."
"Many people mistakenly believe that when it comes to an arrest warrant, the red notice is about an extradition request. But only a judgment can be the basis for such a request. In this case, what is required is only to execute the arrest warrant," the expert added.
After the publication of Buresi's decision against Salameh, the caretaker interior minister said on Tuesday that the governor can not be arrested or prosecuted in Lebanon if Interpol does not issue an arrest warrant [a red notice.]
For his part, a lawyer for one of the associations involved in the proceedings in France had estimated that, as Salameh is now "in a fugitive position," he was not in a position to appeal the arrest warrant, and that he would only recover this right when he was under arrest.
Later in the afternoon, France's national financial prosecutor issued a statement confirming that it had issued an arrest warrant for Salameh, according to Reuters.
Salameh is the subject of several investigations in Lebanon and Europe, where he is suspected of having built up a wealth of real estate and banking assets through a complex financial arrangement and massive misappropriation of public funds.
On Thursday, Chami became the highest-ranking Lebanese official to call for the resignation of the governor. On the same day, 10 independent and opposition MPs called for the governor to be "removed from his post as soon as possible."
Also on Thursday, Salameh said in an interview with the pan-Arab channel al-Hadath that he would resign "if a judgment is rendered" against him, but also added that he would leave office at the end of his term on July 31.