AFP: French National Financial Prosecution Office opened preliminary investigation into Lebanese Central Bank Chairman’s wealth in Europe

PARIS / BEIRUT — On Sunday, Agence France-Presse, quoting a judicial source, reported that the French judicial authorities have opened an investigation into the wealth of the Lebanese Central Bank Chairman Riad Salameh in Europe.

The report comes after the Lebanese Public Prosecution opened an investigation against Salameh following a Swiss legal request revealing the embezzlement of more than $300 million from the bank through a company owned by his brother, Raja Salameh.

In January, the Swiss Public Prosecutor’s Office stated that it had requested legal assistance from Lebanon in connection with an investigation into “serious money laundering” and “possible embezzlement” linked to the Banque du Liban (Lebanese Central Bank).

Official Lebanese media outlets confirmed that the Lebanese Public Prosecutor of Discrimination Judge Ghassan Oueidat referred the preliminary results to the Swiss authorities in February.

Salameh maintains that all his money is legal and that he accumulated his wealth from what he inherited and through his career in the financial sector.

After the National Financial Prosecution in France opened a preliminary investigation into Salameh’s wealth, head of the Paris Bar, Pierre Olivier Sur, Salameh’s agent, responded by issuing a statement, in which he saw that the latter was facing a media and political process and attributing this to the terms included in the French decision.

Olivier Sur also considered that many exaggerations had been made about the extent of the manipulation, calling on everybody to resort to logic.

“There is no conclusive evidence that proves the accusations,” Olivier Sur declared.