Arab Press

بالشعب و للشعب
Friday, Jan 27, 2023

European Prosecutors Hear Lebanese Bankers in Central Bank Commission Probe 

European Prosecutors Hear Lebanese Bankers in Central Bank Commission Probe 

Lebanese bankers told European prosecutors they believed that commissions now at the center of a graft probe had been paid to the central bank, four sources said, while investigators suspect the cash illegally ended up with the governor's brother.
Prosecutors from Germany, France and Luxembourg have been in Beirut as part of the money laundering investigation. They suspect central bank governor Riad Salameh and his brother Raja illegally took more than $300 million from the central bank between 2002 and 2015 and invested some of the funds in Europe.

The two men deny diverting or laundering public funds, saying the $300 million was earned legally. The governor, who has held the post for three decades, says he is being made a scapegoat for Lebanon's financial crisis that erupted in 2019.

European prosecutors have been hearing testimonies from Lebanese bankers and officials over the past week for the first time in the investigation that has focused on who received the commissions, the four people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The European prosecutors, who have yet to file any formal charges, suspect the central bank collected the commissions as a fee from bond buyers and then transferred the funds to Forry Associates, owned by the governor's brother, the sources said.

The bankers and officials told the visiting European prosecutors that they were not aware that the funds had gone to Forry Associates, the four sources said.

The office of Lebanon's chief prosecutor in a statement said on Friday the visiting Europeans had wrapped up their trip and cooperation would continue.

Reuters reported last year, after viewing documents, that the central bank had not made clear to private banks that commissions it charged went to Forry Associates.

Pierre-Olivier Sur, a French lawyer for Riad Salameh, dismissed the accusations. He said commissions collected by Forry were "the price paid for intermediation work provided to bring together buyers and issuers of bonds".

He said those paying commissions for buying bonds might not have known the beneficiary was Forry, which he said had a contract authorized by the central bank's management and supervising bodies.

A person close to Raja Salameh said the governor's brother denied any misappropriation of public funds.

The four sources said former central bank officials and private bankers had told the European prosecutors they first heard of Forry Associates when the investigation began and the name appeared in the media. They told them that they had no reason to believe commissions paid on government securities went to anyone but the central bank, the sources said.

A separate but related Lebanese probe charged Riad Salameh with illicit enrichment in March, which he has denied.

The governor retains the support of some of Lebanon's most powerful politicians, including Nabih Berri, the parliament speaker who has held that top post for decades.

Related Articles

Arab Press
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Germany confirms it will provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
Saudi FM discusses Kingdom’s economy, oil, Iran and US ties in Davos
Israelis rally in three cities against Netanyahu legal reforms
China's foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong urges British gov't to stop the biased and double standards Hong Kong report
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Saudi Arabia plans to use domestic uranium for nuclear fuel
Mohammed Bin Salman chosen most influential Arab leader of 2022
Dirty bomb fears as URANIUM is found in cargo at Heathrow
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
United Arab Emirates says it will teach Holocaust in schools
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
International medical experts speak out against COVID-19 restrictions on China
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Saudi Arabia’s female ambassadors: Who are the five women representing the Kingdom?
Almubarak named ‘The Best Central Bank Governor of the Year 2023 for the Middle East’
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Dubai announces $8.7 trillion economic plan to boost trade, investment and global hub status
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
A Republican congressman-elect is under investigation in New York after he admitted he lied about his education and work experience.
Brazilian football legend Pele, arguably the greatest player ever, has died at the age of 82.
Hong Kong to scrap almost all its Covid rules
EU calls screening of travellers from China unjustified
US imposes Covid testing for visitors from China
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Addresses Joint Session of Congress - FULL SPEECH
Where is Rishi? Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's excuses about the UK's economic challenges just don't make sense
Former FTX CEO Bankman-Fried finally arrested in Bahamas after U.S. files charges
Corruption works: House Financial Services Chair Waters doesn't plan to subpoena her donor, Sam Bankman-Fried, to testify at hearing on FTX collapse
Ronaldo's new contract...
Prince William's godmother resigns honorary royal role after exposing her/their racism
Tax fraud verdict again exposes illusion of Trump the master businessman