Le procureur de la république, le juge Ghassan Oweidat, aurait refusé d’autoriser le juge Jean Tannous et son collègue Raja Hamouche, pourtant son représentant, à se rendre ce lundi à Paris comme annoncé le 21 janvier dernier dans le cadre d’une réunion de concertation et d’échange d’informations concernant l’affaire Riad Salamé, le gouverneur de la Banque du Liban, objet de plusieurs enquêtes internationales pour détournement de fonds publics et blanchiment d’argent.
Des sources étrangères proches du dossier estiment que le procureur souhaiterait être personnellement présent lors de cette réunion, ce que refusent les représentants des appareils judiciaires de certains pays en raison de la crainte de voir alors certaines preuves être enterrées.
Pour rappel, le Parquet national financier (PNF) avait jugé en mai 2021 que les soupçons de fraude du gouverneur de la Banque du Liban, suite à l’ouverture d’une enquête en Suisse, justifiaient l’ouverture d’une enquête en France.
Depuis, la justice française a mené des perquisitions dans plusieurs propriétés liées au gouverneur de la Banque du Liban et notamment un appartement loué par la Banque du Liban à la mère d’origine Ukrainienne de sa fille, ce qui pourrait constituer un abus de bien social.
En novembre dernier, le juge Jean Tannous s’était vu être demandé par le procureur de la république de cesser son enquête concernant les suspicions d’enrichissement illicite du gouverneur de la Banque du Liban Riad Salamé et de son frère Raja Salamé, alors qu’il avait demandé à 6 banques locales, de lui transmettre les dossiers relatifs à des transferts de fonds.
Ces dernières auraient alors refusé ces dernières, se retranchant sous le secret bancaire. L’ancien ministre Rachid Derbas, qui est l’avocat de la Banque Med s’en serait ainsi pris au juge l’accusant de violer la législation locale, estimant que seule une demande formulée à la commission d’enquête de la BdL pourrait, le cas échéant, lever le secret bancaire sur les comptes de Riad Salamé, une commission qui est elle-même présidée par des proches du gouverneur de la Banque Centrale.
Cependant, les experts juridiques qui avaient été consultés, estimaient que la législation concernant le secret bancaire ne peut s’exercer dans ce cas, puisqu’en est exclu les dossiers relatifs à l’enrichissement personnel, amenant le gouverneur de la Banque du Liban et les banques libanaises à lever le secret bancaire sur ces comptes, chose toujours pas faite à l’heure actuelle, après que le procureur de la république ait bloqué ces demandes.
Riad Salamé in the legal turmoil in Switzerland, London and France
A group of activists based in London has accused the governor of the Bank of Lebanon, Riad Salamé and his relatives by name, of corruption and laundering of dirty money.
The group called Guernica37 transmitted this report to the British police last year as well as to the National Crime Agency. This report was prepared at the request of Lebanese civil society activist groups.
A preliminary investigation is also said to be underway to verify the information published. It will then be a question of opening a formal investigation.
Riad Salamé could thus have embezzled several hundreds of billions of Lebanese pounds, reinvested in financial assets in Great Britain, accuse the authors of this report who also transmitted it to the judicial authorities of other European countries.
Riad Salamé, who has read this report believes that these are false allegations.
This report accuses the governor of the Banque du Liban in particular of having provided the benefit of a certain number of his relatives, including his former son-in-law, a lawyer. Recourse to the services of the latter was then compulsory in order to proceed with over-the-counter purchases of Lebanese banks.
The Guernica report37210105-Lebanon-Corruption-redacted-copy-1
Charges of embezzlement already rejected by Riad Salamé
As a reminder, Riad Salamé had categorically rejected the accusations of the Swiss authorities who had asked for details concerning certain transfers . He said he had transferred the sum of $ 240 million only abroad since 2002.
Some sources indicate that, in addition to the governor of the Banque du Liban himself, his brother Raja and his assistant Marianne Hoayek would be targeted by the investigation.
In addition to the Minister of Justice Marie Claude Najem who transferred the file to the Public Prosecutor, the President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun and the outgoing Prime Minister Hassan Diab, would also have been informed of Bern’s request.
For his part, Riad Salamé – supported by the Prime Minister designate Saad Hariri – denied being at the origin of such transfers just like his brother or his assistant.
This information comes when he had already been accused, last April, by Daraj Media, of being at the origin of such movements of funds.
The governor of the Banque du Liban Riad Salamé, his brother Raja and his close advisor Marianne Hoayek would be accused of holding accounts for several hundred million dollars on the basis of documents provided during the Panama Papers scandal.
Thus, Marianne Hoayek would have opened an account for the benefit of Riad Salamé for more than 187 million dollars within the Banco Allado Panama bank and another account within VP Bank Tortola BVI for 150 million dollars.
In addition, a company belonging to Rami Makhouf, a cousin of Syrian President Bashar el Assad would have transferred to the Zurich account of the governor of the Banque du Liban 55 million euros. He is also said to have an account of 80 million euros at the First National Bank.
With his brother Raja, he would have more than 446 million dollars invested mainly abroad. As for Marianne Hoayek, for whom 340 million dollars would have been placed under her name, she is a senior official at the Banque du Liban.
These figures were revealed when the question of the renewal of the mandate of the governor of the Banque du Liban in 2016 before the affair was hushed up, underlined Dima Sadek.
The journalist was then summoned in May 2020 by the Internal Security Forces following a complaint “for damage to the reputation of banks and the prestige of the economy” by the governor of Banque du Liban Riad Salamé.
An investigation opened since in Switzerland for money laundering
Since then, the governor of the Banque du Liban would have seen his assets frozen in Switzerland following the discovery of documents detailing the movements of funds between Lebanon and Switzerland which would have been operated by Riad Salamé and his brother. The men have been accused of money laundering since 2002.
The Swiss authorities thus note that 300 million dollars would have been transferred on the basis of a contract dated April 6, 2002 between the Bank of Lebanon (BDL) and the company Forry Associates Ltd, registered in Tortola in the Virgin Islands and having an office in Beirut, whose economic beneficiary would be Raja Salamé, thus highlighting an embezzlement of funds from the Banque du Liban for the benefit of the latter.
Commissions in the amount of 247 million dollars would have been paid on April 6, 2002 in return on the personal account of Raja Salamé. 207 million were then paid to beneficiaries of accounts in the banks Bankmed, Banque Misr Liban, Crédit Libanais, Banque Audi and Banque Saradar as “personal expenses”. The governor of the BdL himself is said to have received more than $ 7 million from Forry Associates’ HSBC account. On April 5, 2012, Riad Salamé allegedly asked the Zurich bank to transfer Lebanese treasury bonds in the amount of 153 million dollars to the Swiss Audi Bank in Beirut “with a personal signature”, leading the Swiss authorities to monitor the movements of these accounts, confirming according to investigators their suspicions of embezzlement.
10 million dollars would have even been paid into personal accounts belonging to Riad Salamé for a fictitious company, “Westlake Commercial Inc”, whose accounts are also hosted by the Swiss bank Julius Baer
The governor of the Banque du Liban would have 50 million dollars in Switzerland as well as many real estate.Swiss_File-2
Another problem, the company in question would be unknown in Lebanon and would not have acted within the framework of the contract, indicate certain legal sources.
Two complaints filed in France
Since April 2021, 2 complaints have been filed against the Governor of the Banque du Liban, one by the Swiss association Accountability Now and the other by the Sherpa association supporting a Franco-Lebanese collective. They accuse Riad Salamé, who also holds French nationality, of embezzlement and laundering of dirty money.
One of the complaints was allegedly filed on behalf of the Swiss foundation Accountability Now by lawyer Antoine Mausonneuve against Riad Salamé and the second on April 30 by lawyers William Bourdon and Amélie Lefebre on behalf of the Sherpa Association , specializing in the fight against economic crime around the world and a Franco-Lebanese collective.
According to the content of the article, the own son of Riad Salamé, Nadi, aged 34, and his collaborator Marianne Hoayek, whose heritage would be of dubious origin, would also be accused.
The patrimony of the governor of the Banque du Liban – also holder of French nationality – in place since 1993, would reach several hundred million euros and would have increased disproportionately since his accession to the head of the Lebanese Central Bank.
On July 16, the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office entrusted the investigation to investigating judges. This new procedure could therefore allow the investigation to be extended, notably at the international level within the European framework, but also to transmit requests for information to the Lebanese judicial authorities. Eventually, assets could even be seized or frozen.
Illegitimate daughter born from adulterous affair with Ukrainian woman discovered
Following an investigation into the funds of the governor of the Banque du Liban, a major surprise was discovered with the tracing of funds destined for a French real estate company. It would have been moved to Luxembourg and its leaders changed in May 2021. Among the beneficiaries of this change will appear the illegitimate daughter of Riad Salamé aged only 15, under the guardianship of her mother, a 40-year-old Ukrainian national.
The 2 women would have seen a significant real estate heritage for an amount of more than 21 million euros being made available to them.
An investigation opened since in Luxembourg and Germany
On Friday November 12, 2021, media sources indicate that an investigation would have been opened by the Luxembourg justice after the discovery of a large network of companies belonging to Riad Salamé and his relatives. The assets of these companies are estimated at $ 100 million.
On February 8, 2022, it was Germany’s turn to request additional information for illicit enrichment against the governor of the Banque du Liban and his brother Raja Salamé.
And no indictment in Lebanon
In Lebanon, the latter, if he was heard by justice, is still not the subject of an official indictment by the public prosecutor, judge Ghassan Oweidat, close like him to the former first Minister Saad Hariri.
Riad Salamé has, on several occasions and with this support, Saad Hariri having repeatedly recalled the immunity he enjoys, refused to go – officially for security reasons – to Judge Ghada Aoun as part of the investigation into the manipulation of the dollar rate against the Lebanese pound. The role of the governor of the BdL had been questioned by the president of the union of official stockbrokers himself in May 2020.
Riad Salamé disappears from the radar of justice
On Tuesday, February 15, a dramatic turn of events, the governor of the Banque du Liban disappeared while a State Security operation aimed at bringing him to justice was planned. A controversy also erupts concerning the role played by the ISPs in this disappearance.