Lebanon’s Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh speaks during a news conference at Central Bank in Beirut, Lebanon, 11 November, 2019. (Photo credit: Mohamed Azakir/Reuters)
On 28 March, the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) announced the seizure of €120 million worth of assets connected to the Lebanese Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh, and linked to the investigation of a money laundering case.
In a media statement published on its website, Eurojust said the seized assets include several bank accounts and properties in Germany, Belgium, and France.
The statement also said that the bank accounts and properties belong to five individuals “suspected of embezzling public funds in Lebanon for amounts of more than $330 million and €5 million, respectively, between 2002 and 2021.” The statement, however, did not name the five suspects.
According to Eurojust, the seizures are a result of an extensive investigation by law enforcement agencies in at least three European countries.
The announcement comes exactly one week after Lebanese judge Ghada Aoun charged Salameh with “illicit enrichment.” The charge is in relation to the purchase and rental of an apartment in Paris.
Salameh reportedly bought the apartment and then rented it out to the Lebanese Central Bank at an inflated rate. His brother, Raja Salameh, had also been detained on the same charges a few days earlier.
Salameh who has been at the helm of the Lebanese Central Bank for nearly three decades is facing criminal investigations in Lebanon and in at least five European countries over suspected embezzlement and criminal misconduct at the central bank.
In January, Judge Ghada Aoun banned Salameh from traveling outside the country. In February, the same judge issued an arrest warranty against the embattled central bank chief after he repeatedly failed to appear in court to face allegations of corruption and criminal misconduct at the central bank.
Salameh denies all the allegations and insists that he is a victim of politically motivated charges.