Swiss Prosecutors Scrutinize Lebanon’s Central Bank for Money Laundering
Prosecutors in Switzerland are carrying out investigations from the British Virgin Islands to Geneva to track the suspicious movement of funds of Lebanon’s Central Bank’s Chief Riad Salameh.
The attorney general’s office in Switzerland said that it has been investigating the vexing money laundering and possible embezzlement that might be harmful to the Central Bank of Lebanon. The investigation by the Swiss is being assisted by Beirut’s Judiciary.
However, a Lebanese newspaper claimed that this investigation is a part of a bigger agenda by France, the USA, and Britain to keep an eye on the activities of officials of Lebanon.
The report suggests that the Swiss judicial has requested assistance from Lebanonies Judiciary and it has provided a list containing the series of fund movements between Lebanon and Switzerland. The report by a Swiss news channel reveals that the funds are more than $300 million in worth and Riad Salameh and his brother are responsible for the illicit financial flow of these funds.
A judge disclosed that a Lebanese judiciary has already referred to a judicial investigation over Salameh’s mishandling of a foreign currency scheme that was supposed to curb the rise in the prices of food.
The Swiss investigation highlighted the contract signed between the Central Bank of Lebanon and a company called Forry Associates Ltd. Salameh is listed as the beneficial owner of the company that has an office in Beirut and is registered in Britain’s Virgin Island overseas territory. The contract signed by Salameh and his brother has provided the company to sell treasury bonds issued by the Central Bank of Lebanon.
This allowed the company to boost its account by $326 million from 2002 to 2014. The money that was landed in the account was instantly transferred to Salameh’s personal accounts. The investigation also highlighted that Salemeh opened several bank accounts.
The Swiss prosecutors also voiced the suspicions of the real estate holdings in Switzerland by Riad Salameh through two companies based in Geneva.
Lebanon is grappling through a major economic crisis due to the civil war and more than half its populations are facing vast poverty. Against the US dollar, the Lebanese pound has lost 85% of its value. The economic crises have impacted the salaries and pensions in the country. Money laundering is further ruining the country’s economy and corrupt officials are gaining all the benefits through it.