EU Freezes $130 Million Worth of Assets Linked to Money Laundering in Lebanon

  • Richard Marley
  • March 29, 2022
  • 2 minutes read
  • 1655

France, Germany, and Luxembourg have seized the properties and frozen assets worth $130 million linked to the embezzlement of funds in Lebanon.

While Lebanon is suffering from a devastating economic crisis, financial authorities in three EU countries – Germany, France, and Luxembourg – have seized over $130 million worth of its assets that are linked to a money laundering case.

The actions being taken by authorities in the three EU countries align with the domestic and European investigations of its longtime central bank governor, Riad Salameh. The economic crisis, which hit Lebanon in October 2019 after decades of corruption and lack of management, has continued with no action taken by the country’s political class to work for a solution.

Eurojust, the EU Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, stated that the investigation targets five suspects accused of money laundering. It did not identify the five, adding that they are suspected of embezzling public funds in Lebanon amounting to more than $330 million and 5 million euros ($5.5 million) respectively, between 2002 and 2021.

It said the assets that were seized on Friday sum up to 120 million euros ($131.6 million). At that point, it was not clear whether the case is linked to the investigation of Salameh, who was charged by a Lebanese judge earlier this month with embezzlement and money laundering. Moreover, Salameh’s brother Raja was arrested on March 17 over corruption charges.

The assets of the Salameh brothers have been seized in Lebanon after a judge ordered the freezing in a money laundering case. According to a Lebanese judge, Riad Salameh had used his brother to buy real estate in France worth nearly $12 million.

According to another report, a brokerage firm, Forry Associates Ltd., owned by Raja Salameh, was hired by the central bank to handle government bond sales in which the firm received $330 million in commissions. 

The governor, who has denied all charges of corruption, calling them politicized, said in November that “not a single penny of public money” was used to pay Forry Associates Ltd.

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