BEIRUT – Lebanon’s central bank governor’s brother did not appear at a hearing in Beirut on Tuesday, when European investigators were looking into whether the brothers embezzled and laundered hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds over a decade.
Governor Riad Salameh is being investigated in Lebanon and at least five European countries alongside his brother Raja for allegedly stealing more than $300 million from the central bank by collecting commissions as a fee from bond buyers and then transferring the funds to Forry Associates, which Raja owns.

The brothers maintain their innocence. On Tuesday, Raja’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

European investigators arrived in Beirut on Monday and were scheduled to question Raja on Tuesday morning as part of the investigation.

He did not attend the session, according to a senior judicial source, and his lawyer just came in briefly to say he was ill.

The governor, 72, has previously denied any wrongdoing, claiming that the commissions were not public funds.

According to French court documents, Forry’s money was used to make “numerous” real estate transactions around Europe and the United Kingdom.

According to the documents, authorities believe Riad used forged banking records in Raja’s name to conceal illegitimate sources of wealth.

Over two days in March, European investigators questioned the governor in Beirut about the central bank’s ties to Forry, his holdings overseas, the source of his riches, and payments he made to acquaintances and relatives.

The detectives have returned to question Raja and his assistant, Marianne Houayek.
The three have been charged with financial crimes in two distinct cases in Lebanon, but have yet to be formally and publicly prosecuted in the European countries under investigation.

French prosecutors have told Riad that they aim to prosecute him with fraud and aggravated money laundering at a hearing scheduled for May 16 in France.
Salameh’s lawyer stated earlier this month that his client had not yet determined whether or not to attend the French hearing.

Raja was detained in Lebanon for about two months last spring on suspicions of “complicity in illicit enrichment” involving his brother.

Raja was released on a record bail of 100 billion Lebanese pounds, or approximately $3.7 million at the time’s market exchange rate.





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