After the Swiss judiciary, the French judiciary decided to look into the file of wealth owned in Europe by the governor of the Lebanese Central Bank, Riad Salameh, at a time when his country was plunged into the worst economic crisis in its history, at a time when attention was still focused on the efforts made by the Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament. Nabih Berri, to contain the existing governmental crisis, and to reactivate his initiative towards authorship after the widening gap between President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri. She confirmed, “Berry’s determination to record a breach in the government crisis wall and to accomplish what looks like a “mini-reconciliation” that would allow effective access to addressing the faltering government formation crisis.”
An investigation with a European dimension
Two weeks after receiving two complaints targeting the Governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon, Riad Salameh, and his circles, the National Financial Prosecution Office in France opened a preliminary investigation into the case of “criminal conspiracy” and “money laundering in an organized gang,” according to a source close to the file, yesterday, Sunday. Confirming information provided by a judicial source. It is assumed that the investigations will allow, in particular, to clarify the source of the great wealth owned by Salama (70 years old). According to the French newspaper “Le Monde”, the first complaint was submitted by the Swiss institution “Accountability Now”. As for the second complaint, it was submitted by the “Sherpa” organization, which is active in combating major financial crimes, and the “Association for Victims of Fraudulent and Criminal Practices in Lebanon,” which was established by depositors who lost their money in the crisis that the country has been witnessing since 2019. Sherpa’s lawyer and the Lebanese Association, William Bourdon, welcomed And Amelie Lefevre, announcing the opening of the French investigation, considering it a “huge and global investigation with a European dimension.” “Huge money laundering operations will be considered, which should open all the drawers of the mafia that brought Lebanon to its knees,” they said. Their complaint accuses Salama and four people around him, his brother Raja, his son Nadi, his nephew and his close assistant, Marian Howayk, of having amassed a huge fortune by fraud in Europe. The two organizations call on the judiciary to investigate the widespread escape of Lebanese capital since the beginning of the crisis, the acquisition of luxury real estate that is not commensurate with the incomes of the persons targeted in the complaint, and the responsibility of financial intermediaries, through tax havens and pseudonyms. According to the complaint, “the global wealth” of Riad Salameh “currently exceeds two billion dollars.” It also states that “the value of his assets in Luxembourg amounted to 94 million dollars in 2018.”
Communications out of the limelight
On the other hand, Parliament Presidency sources indicated that Speaker Nabih Berri had set a time limit for his initiative, either to reach a solution within two weeks, or to turn off his engines and hold the obstructionists responsible for what happened. The sources pointed out that “the permanent communication between Berri and the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi, who relies a lot on Berri’s efforts as the only one who is able to impose the appropriate solution and convince those concerned with it.” According to informed political sources, communications on the government line resumed in the past hours, away from the spotlight, to revive Berri’s effort. It also indicates that Berri is counting on Egyptian-Russian international pressures to aid his endeavor, especially since Cairo publicly supports him in his mediation, while the Director General of Lebanese Public Security, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, is preparing to visit Moscow in the coming days, where the government issue will undoubtedly be present. Parallel to a visit by the head of the Socialist Party, Walid Jumblatt, to Russia in the middle of this month, he received, on Saturday, in Mukhtara, Russian Ambassador Alexander Rudakov, and the two sides presented the general political situation in Lebanon and the region.