Lebanon's central bank chief 'working from home' and not on the run amid legal pressure

Security agency raided three locations on Tuesday in an attempt to detain Riad Salameh for failing to respond to court summons linked to fraud case

Lebanon's central bank governor Riad Salameh is working as usual despite efforts by a judge to question him and reports of security services not locating him. AFP
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Lebanon's central bank governor Riad Salameh is working normally from his office where he chaired a meeting on Wednesday, a day after security services sought him for a court hearing over alleged misconduct, according to three sources, including one from the central bank.

The security services were acting on the order of Judge Ghada Aoun, who has issued an open-ended subpoena against Mr Salameh after he failed to attend several hearings as a witness in continuing investigations.

Two of the sources said Mr Salameh had been staying at an apartment in the central bank building. Mr Salameh did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr Salameh, who has headed the central bank for about three decades, has been accused of fraud and other acts of misconduct in the lead-up to Lebanon's financial meltdown in 2019.

He faces a number of other investigations in European countries.

Mr Salameh has denied any wrongdoing and has described accusations against him as politically motivated. He has sought for Judge Aoun to be dismissed from cases against him, accusing her of bias.

State Security, one of Lebanon's main agencies, sought Mr Salameh at the central bank and two personal residences on Tuesday but was unable to locate him, according to a senior security official and local media.

Some media reports suggested State Security had been impeded by another agency, the Internal Security Force (ISF), and Judge Aoun told Reuters on Wednesday that she had charged the ISF's head, Imad Osman, with preventing the execution of a judicial order.

The ISF denied in a statement that it had prevented the execution of the subpoena, saying Mr Osman had spoken by phone with the head of State Security and that the two were working in co-ordination.

The ISF and State Security are considered to have different political allegiances within Lebanon's sectarian political system.

Mr Salameh has faced increased scrutiny since the onset of Lebanon's financial collapse but continues to enjoy the support of senior politicians, including the prime minister.

Updated: February 17, 2022, 4:22 AM