Brother of Lebanon’s central bank governor released on $3.7 million bail
The Salameh brothers have been accused of money laundering and illicit enrichment, while the UN has accused the Lebanese central bank of human rights violations
By News Desk - May 12 2022

(Photo credit: Al-Arabiya)

Raja Salameh, the brother of Lebanon’s Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh, was released on a $3.7 million bail on 12 May after being detained for two months, judicial sources have revealed.

According to reports, a travel ban has been issued against him and 40 of his properties will be confiscated.

On 12 April, the Mount Lebanon accusatory body, led by Judge Pierre Francis, approved the release of the Central Bank Governor’s brother and dismissed the appeal issued by Judge Ghada Aoun to keep him detained.

The accusatory body also reduced Raja Salameh’s bail from 500 billion Lebanese liras, which amounts to $20 million, to 200 billion Lebanese liras. The initial bail was set by Judge Nicolas Mansour, and was reportedly the highest bail amount set in Lebanon’s history.

Raja Salameh has been accused of aiding his brother in the embezzlement of millions of dollars in public funds through concealed commissions that were received by Forry Associates, a company he owns.

Judge Mansour had ordered Raja Salameh’s release, yet Judge Aoun filed an appeal against his decision, demanding that he remain in custody on charges of “facilitating money laundering” and “illicit enrichment,” the same charge given to his brother, Riad Salameh.

The same judge is also overseeing several cases against the Central Bank Governor himself, who has repeatedly failed to show up at court.

Salameh, who has been at the helm of the Lebanese central bank for three decades, is under investigation for money laundering and corruption in France, Germany, Luxembourg, Lichtenstein, and Switzerland. His next hearing will be held on 9 June.

Just one day before Raja Salameh’s release, the UN released a report accusing the Lebanese government and central bank of “human rights violations” for creating the conditions for an acute economic crisis that has plunged over 80 percent of the population below the poverty line.

“The Lebanese State, including its Central Bank, is responsible for human rights violations, including the unnecessary immiseration of the population, that have resulted from this man-made crisis,” the UN report said.

The UN report also notes that “undue influence by the banking sector … continues to sway negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) [to the detriment of the most vulnerable in society].”

The economy of Lebanon has been in freefall since 2019, crushed by a crisis so severe that the World Bank has described it as the world’s worst in 150 years. A year later, a devastating explosion at the main port destroyed large swathes of the capital Beirut.

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