BEIRUT – A Lebanese judge will lift a travel ban put on the country’s controversial central bank president, who has been summoned for a hearing in Paris next month, according to two judicial sources.
Riad Salameh is a member of a political elite widely blamed for Lebanon’s unparalleled economic catastrophe, which the World Bank estimates is on a par with wars.
He is the subject of a number of court investigations both at home and abroad, including in France, where he has been summoned for a hearing on May 16 on suspicion of fraud, money laundering, and illicit enrichment, among other claims.
“Judge Ghada Aoun will lift Riad Salameh’s travel ban tomorrow,” the first court official told AFP, speaking on condition of
anonymity because they were not permitted to speak to the media.
Salameh was banned by Aoun in January of last year after an activist organization launched a lawsuit against him, alleging financial malfeasance.
A second judicial official, who also requested anonymity, confirmed on Thursday that the restrictions will be lifted.
The second official added, “He will have no excuse not to go to France” for the hearing.
In March of last year, France, Germany, and Luxembourg seized assets worth 120 million euros ($130 million) in connection with a French investigation into Salameh’s personal riches.
Salameh, who denies any wrongdoing, is also being probed by Lebanese authorities for suspected financial misbehavior, including embezzlement, money laundering, and tax evasion.
Lebanon launched its own inquiry into Salameh’s fortune in 2021, after the Swiss prosecutor’s office requested cooperation with an investigation into more than $300 million allegedly embezzled from the central bank with the help of his brother Raja.
Both Salameh brothers have denied all wrongdoing.
According to a source close to the French investigation, Raja, Salameh’s former aide Marianne Hoayek, and his son Nady Salameh were identified as possible accomplices but were not indicted.
According to the source, a French judge is also looking into Marwan Kheireddine, the head of Al-Mawarid Bank, which is suspected of evading adequate checks on Salameh’s accounts.
According to the source, Kheireddine is being investigated for suspected financial crimes such as criminal association with the intent of embezzling public funds, severe breach of trust, and influencing a civil servant.