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Lebanon’s Salameh Accuses Judge Investigating Him of Bias

Lebanon’s Salameh Accuses Judge Investigating Him of Bias

Thursday, 13 January, 2022 - 17:30
Lebanon's Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh reacts after a news conference at Central Bank in Beirut, Lebanon November 11, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Lebanon's central bank governor Riad Salameh accused judge Ghada Aoun who issued a travel ban against him of bias, a central bank statement said on Thursday.

Aoun told Reuters on Tuesday that she had imposed the ban as part of a Lebanese investigation she is leading into the conduct of Salameh.

Salameh, who has been governor for almost three decades, has stayed in his post even as the economy has been crushed by a mountain of debt, the currency has collapsed and swathes of the nation have been driven into poverty.

When asked about allegations ranging from fraud to abuse of public funds being investigated in the Lebanese probe, Salameh said the cases raised against him personally “are part of the campaign to fool the public opinion."

"All the actions of the central bank are executed according to the law of money and credit and thus are not the actions of one person that takes decisions by himself," he told Reuters.

A judicial source said Aoun's probe included investigating alleged fraud and complaints about the governor's actions by depositors, who have been locked out of savings held by Lebanese banks.

The investigation also included looking at the central bank's "financial engineering" operations, a range of mechanisms that amounted to offering banks lavish returns over several years to attract dollars into Lebanon, the source said.

The Lebanese judge was also probing the renting of a Paris apartment by the central bank as a back-up server room for a decade at what was considered an inflated rate, the source said.

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