Lebanese State Prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat on Thursday passed on to Switzerland information requested in an anti-graft probe involving Lebanon’s central bank chief and alleged capital flight, a judicial source said.
“Prosecutor general Ghassan Oueidat today via diplomatic channels transferred the preliminary findings following the request for help from the Swiss judiciary,” the source said.
The findings included the statements of Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh, his brother and his secretary, as well as documents requested from the central bank, following their questioning over alleged bank transfers to Switzerland.
“Oueidat, in exchange, asked for them to share the documents they have” from their investigation, the source added.
The Swiss attorney general’s office on January 19 said it had requested assistance from Lebanon in an investigation into “aggravated money laundering… in connection with possible embezzlement to the detriment of” the Lebanese central bank.
Salameh on January 21 said he went to see the Lebanese prosecutor and “assured him that no money transfer had been made from the Bank of Lebanon accounts or budgets.”
A judicial source, however, said Salameh mentioned “transfers not exceeding 240 million dollars made since 2002 from personal accounts to fund a company founded with his brother,” charges Salameh’s office later denied.
The probe comes as Lebanon grapples with its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.
Salameh and the country’s elite have been widely accused of stashing their dollars in foreign accounts to evade capital controls.
This has sparked calls abroad and at home for efforts to return deposits to Lebanon, which is in desperate need of foreign currency.