BEIRUT — The Finance Ministry has delivered reports on the Banque du Liban accounting audits carried out over several years by the firms KPMG and Oliver Wyman to caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Forces of Change MP Melhem Khalaf announced via Twitter, recently rebranded as X, on Monday.
The reports were sent to government ministers with the agenda for this Monday's cabinet meeting
"The ministry sent the head of cabinet a note to which three reports were attached," Khalaf wrote on Monday, specifying that these reports comprised one from Oliver Wyman and two from KPMG.
He pointed out that this event follows a decision issued on Aug. 1 by the Beirut interim relief judge, Mohammad Chehab, "which obliged the aforementioned ministry to hand over the audit reports" to several lawyers and Khalaf, who is also a lawyer.
These two reports "had been ready for two years," the MP added, asserting that the lawyers "are waiting to receive an official copy."
The best-known of the BDL audits is the forensic audit by Alvarez & Marsal (A&M). This was the audit long called for by a large section of the Lebanese political class — most notably by former President Michel Aoun as part of his denunciation of the actions of Riad Salameh, the ex-governor of the BDL. It made the headlines after much back and forth between the government and the company related to the signing of the contract and the launching of the actual audit.
But two other players were also hired to carry out audits: KPMG for the accounting side and Oliver Wyman to check whether BDL's accounting practices were in line with those used by other central banks.
Oliver Wyman's mission is of particular interest to the international community, and the execution of this audit was included in the reform roadmap defined by France in the summer of 2020. Its purpose is to determine whether BDL has taken excessive liberties with accounting rules in order to minimize the extent of losses on its balance sheet, for example by omitting to record monetary and asset transations that should have been recorded.
The forensic accounting component is designed to trace the history of transactions in order to detect possible fraud so that it can be admitted by judges in any legal proceedings. A draft of this section was recently sent to the Finance Ministry but has not been circulated by the latter. Its publication is also the subject of a legal tug-of-war between elements of the political class, civil society and the ministry.