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Lebanon’s Salameh: No Transfers Made from Central Bank Accounts

Lebanon’s Salameh: No Transfers Made from Central Bank Accounts

Thursday, 21 January, 2021 - 12:00
FILE PHOTO: Lebanese Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh speaks during a Euromoney conference in Beirut, Lebanon June 25, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo

Lebanon's Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh said on Thursday no financial transfers had been made from the central bank's accounts.

Salameh has answered questions from Lebanon's public prosecutor based on a Swiss request, a senior judicial source told Reuters earlier.

The source said Salameh decided to respond to further questions directly to Swiss authorities as he was given the option.

He said he was "always ready to answer any questions."

The questioning came after the Lebanese judiciary received a request for assistance from Switzerland over an investigation into money transfers allegedly made by Salameh.

The investigation is looking into $400 million allegedly transferred out of Lebanon, despite tight restrictions, by Salameh, his brother, his assistant and financial institutions linked to the Central Bank, a source said.

The probe comes as Lebanon grapples with its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.

The Lebanese pound has lost more than 80 percent of its value against the dollar on the black market and banks have halted dollar transactions to shore up dwindling foreign currency reserves.

Salameh and the country's elite have been widely accused of stashing their dollars in foreign accounts to evade capital controls.

This has sparked calls abroad and at home for efforts to return deposits to Lebanon, which is in desperate need of foreign currency.

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