France Issues Arrest Warrant For Lebanese Central Bank Governor

France issued an arrest warrant for Lebanese Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh after he failed to appear before French prosecutors on Tuesday as part of an ongoing European probe.

A French investigative judge on Tuesday issued an international arrest warrant for Lebanon’s embattled central bank governor after he didn’t show up for questioning in France on corruption charges, a Western diplomat said.

Longtime central bank Governor Riad Salameh was supposed to appear before French prosecutors Tuesday as part of an ongoing European probe. Lebanese officials have not confirmed receipt of the arrest warrant nor commented on the development.

The Western diplomat who confirmed the warrant spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not cleared to speak to media outlets.

Chanez Mensous, a lawyer at the French anti-corruption non-governmental organization Sherpa, which alongside other organizations filed initial legal complaints against Salameh and associates back in May 2021, also confirmed the warrant was issued.

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Salameh responded with a statement shortly afterward, saying he will appeal the decision calling it a “clear legal violation.” He also criticized the French judicial process, saying that some confidential information about the case was leaked to the media.

A European judicial team from France, Germany and Luxembourg has been conducting a corruption investigation into an array of financial crimes they allege were committed by Salameh and a long list of his associates from Lebanon’s central bank, as well as Lebanese commercial banks and auditing companies. The allegations include illicit enrichment and laundering of $330 million.

Salameh, 72, who has held his post for almost 30 years, has repeatedly denied all allegations against him. He has insisted that his wealth comes from his previous job as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch, inherited properties and investments.

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