European investigators will listen next week to companies that have checked the accounts of the Banque du Liban

European investigators have scheduled hearings next week for managers of three companies that audited the accounts of the Banque du Liban, a judicial source told AFP on Friday, as part of investigations related to money laundering and embezzlement cases linked to central bank governor Riad Salameh.
Investigators from France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg began this week in Beirut a new mission, on their third visit to Lebanon to hear, in the presence of Lebanese judges, witnesses in the investigations related to Salameh’s wealth.
The judicial source said, on condition of anonymity, that the European investigators intend, starting next Tuesday, to hear the managers of three financial auditing companies in the accounts of the Banque du Liban.
The three companies are Ernst & Young, Ghulam and Deloitte, which have been auditing central bank accounts since 1994.
The wealth of Salama (72 years), one of the longest-serving rulers of central banks in the world, has been the focus of investigations two years ago in Lebanon and abroad, as he is pursued by several suspicions, including embezzlement and laundering of public funds in Lebanon and transferring them to accounts abroad.
France, Germany and Luxembourg froze 120 million euros of Lebanese assets, following an investigation into money laundering that targeted five people, including the Governor of the Banque du Liban, his brother Raja, and his assistant, Marianne Howayek.
On Thursday and Friday, the investigators listened to Al-Huwaik, and the questions asked to her, according to the source, centered “about her accounts with the Salama brothers, their transfers abroad and the movement of their money.”
After Raja Salameh was absent from the hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday, and his client provided a medical excuse, the investigators set a date for a new hearing next Wednesday, according to the source.
On the agenda of the European investigators is to hear, during the coming week, a former deputy governor of the Banque du Liban and current Minister of Finance, Youssef Khalil, who assumed the position of director of financial operations at the Central Bank.
The European investigations focus on the relationship between the Banque du Liban and the “Fore Associates” company, which is registered in the Virgin Islands and has an office in Beirut, and its economic beneficiary, Raja Salameh. It is believed that the company played the role of intermediary for the purchase of treasury bonds and Eurobonds from the Banque du Liban by receiving a subscription commission, which was transferred to Raja Salameh’s accounts abroad.
During two hearings last March before European investigators, Riad Salameh denied that he had transferred any money from the Banque du Liban to his personal accounts inside and outside the country, criticizing what he described as “bad faith and a thirst for prosecution” against him from several sides.
This month, a Lebanese judge lifted a travel ban imposed on Salama, which would allow him to appear before the French judiciary, which summoned him to appear before him on May 16.

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