Lebanon security forces sent to raid home of central bank governor

It is the first successful raid on the governor's property, who is charged with illicit enrichment

Riad Salameh has come under intense scrutiny since the Lebanese economy collapsed in 2019. AP
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Lebanon's state security forces on Wednesday raided a home belonging to central bank governor Riad Salameh after an overnight stakeout.

Judge Ghada Aoun, the Mount Lebanon state prosecutor who has charged the central bank governor, along with his brother Raja Salameh, with illicit enrichment, also participated in Wednesday's raid by state security forces.

Ms Aoun, who personally oversaw the search of Mr Salameh's property, was accompanied by a treasury expert with equipment used to break into safes, local media reported.

Wednesday marks the first successful raid on the governor's property. Mr Salameh, the subject of two separate corruption investigations in Lebanon, has failed to appear at several hearings.

During the stakeout, a judicial source had called Mr Salameh's reluctance to co-operate with the judiciary a “provocation” and told The National further action would be taken soon.

“We have to do our work. We will take all legal measures to ensure our work is done,” the source said.

Mr Salameh was reportedly not at the property in the town of Rabieh, on the northern edge of Greater Beirut, at the time of the raid.

Earlier this year, Ms Aoun issued a subpoena after Mr Salameh failed to appear for questioning three times.

State security failed to locate him in February when they tried to raid his Rabieh home, sparking a controversy with another security agency that is accused of protecting him.

Lebanese security forces outside a house owned by central bank governor Riad Salameh, in Rabieh. Reuters

Mr Salameh has come under intense scrutiny since the country’s financial collapse in 2019, which has pushed more than three quarters of the country into poverty.

The raid comes at a time of heightened tension between Mr Salameh and the Lebanese judiciary.

Lebanese media reported in early June that prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat had issued charges against Mr Salameh and his younger brother, Raja, for misappropriation of funds, money laundering and tax evasion, among other charges.

This came two days after the brothers filed a lawsuit against Mr Oueidat for gross misconduct.

Raja Salameh was released on May 22 after spending nearly a month in detention on a record bail of 100 billion Lebanese pounds ($3.7 million).

Ms Aoun ordered him to be detained after questioning him over apartments bought in Paris, charging the brothers with illicit enrichment.

Updated: June 22, 2022, 5:01 PM
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