Judge Ghada Aoun. (Photo credit: FutureTV Web)
According to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), Lebanese Judge Ghada Aoun has issued a lawsuit against the country’s Police Chief after he prevented another police agency from apprehending Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh earlier this month.
Aoun issued the lawsuit against police chief Major General Imad Osman the day after State Security officers were blocked from acting upon the judge’s orders to arrest and bring in Salameh for questioning on 15 February.
Judge Aoun accused Osman of “fighting authorities and preventing the implementation of a judicial order” upon discovering why officers were unsuccessful in turning in the Central Bank governor.
Salameh, who is under investigation in Lebanon, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein, has for months failed to show up to several hearings.
He has been accused of embezzlement, wasting public funds, illegal enrichment, and money laundering. His assets are also currently under investigation in the UK.
When State Security forces tried to show up at Salameh’s Beirut office and two of his residences on 15 February to arrest him, he was reportedly protected by certain members of the Internal Security Forces (ISF), an institution over which Osman presides.
On 15 February, the office of the General Directorate of the Internal Security Forces released a statement saying that the police agency “did not prevent patrol forces from the ISF from executing the subpoena against the governor of the Banque du Liban,” referring to Salameh.
Rather, the ISF statement said that the agency only issued orders “to protect the ruler from any security threat.”
Yet the statement also claimed that General Osman was working in coordination with Director-General of State Security, Major General Tony Saliba. However, State Security, in an active manhunt against Salameh, said that the governor was nowhere to be found.
For his part, Salameh has continuously dismissed all allegations against him, calling them “fabrications and fake news.”
On top of this, judicial sources have claimed that US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea recently told Prime Minister Najib Mikati to block the subpoena on Salameh.