Lebanon central bank governor Riad Salameh to face questioning on March 15

Judge investigating embezzlement charges will also summon Mr Salameh's brother and another accused, judicial source confirms to The National

Riad Salameh has been charged with embezzlement, forgery, illicit enrichment, money laundering and violation of tax law. Reuters
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Lebanon's central bank governor Riad Salameh will face questioning on March 15 by the judge investigating charges against him for alleged embezzlement, a senior judicial source told The National.

The case was referred to Beirut first investigative judge Charbel Abou Samra last week after another judge, Raja Hamoush, charged Mr Salameh, his brother Raja and his assistant and former romantic partner, Marianne Howayek, with embezzlement, forgery, illicit enrichment, money laundering and violation of tax law.

The charges relate to the misappropriation of more than $330 million from the Banque du Liban through a contract awarded to Raja Salameh.

"The two other defendants' hearings will be set after the governor's questioning," the senior judicial source said.

Judge Abou Samra can then decide whether to dismiss the case or, if he deems there is sufficient evidence, file an indictment that would lead to trial.

Riad Salameh was once lauded as the guardian of Lebanon's financial sector, which has now collapsed amid an unprecedented financial crisis that began in 2019. He has been under investigation for alleged money laundering by at least six European countries since 2020.

The Salameh bothers have denied any wrongdoing.

European judicial officials visited Lebanon last month to question witnesses and collect evidence in the case.

They were set to return early this month but their trip was postponed to give time for the new judge to review the file, a diplomatic source said.

A new date for their visit has not been announced and it is unclear whether they will be in Beirut when Mr Salameh is questioned on March 15.

Updated: March 06, 2023, 12:41 PM