The President of the Republic and the Prime Minister-designate have not yet agreed on the composition of the government. A few days ago, it seemed like the lines were finally moving in the right direction.
Indeed, Saad Hariri, the Prime Minister designate, will be received on April 22, 2021 by the Pope at the Vatican. If the Maronite Patriarch Béchara Raï took a stand against Hezbollah, an ally of the President of the Republic and of the CPL, he received Michel Aoun on the occasion of the Easter feast and was disappointed with Saad Hariri’s repeated trips to abroad. The Prime Minister-designate is currently in the United Arab Emirates. Father Nehmetallah Hachem, Superior General of the Lebanese Maronite Order (OLM), even gave clear support to the President of the Republic. Bkerké (the patriarchate) and Kaslik (the OLM and its monks) are the main Maronite religious authorities. The United States and Iran are negotiating a lifting of American sanctions in exchange for the Islamic Republic to respect its commitments under the nuclear agreement signed in 2015. As Saad Hariri sought his support, Saudi Arabia said through the voice of its Foreign Minister Prince Faisal ben Farhane (interviewed a few days ago by CNN): “We do not support specific people in Lebanon. . We are ready to show solidarity as long as the political class makes real progress. ”
Gébran Bassil, head of the Free Patriotic Movement (CPL) founded by Michel Aoun, the President of the Republic, was to be invited by France which, to save its initiative following the explosion in the port of Beirut, was thinking of organizing a conference like the one held in Doha in 2008 with the heads of the parliamentary blocs or at least one meeting with the Prime Minister designate. However, we learned on April 6, 2021 that Saad Hariri refused to meet Gébran Bassil. The next day, Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, launched in the French Senate the same accusations as Saad Hariri against Gébran Bassil, without however citing him. The Lebanese file would be returned to the hands of the Quai d’Orsay (known for its proximity to Saad Hariri and the “Kataëb party – Lebanese social democratic party”) which would consider, with its European counterparts, European Union sanctions against certain Lebanese leaders.
The President of the Republic published a Tweet on April 5, 2021 warning the Ministry of Finance (Minister Ghazi Wazni is the former advisor to President of Parliament Nabih Berri) and the BDL or Banque du Liban (Governor Riad Salamé is supported by Saad Hariri, Nabih Berri and Walid Joumblatt as well as by the ABL or Association of Banks of Lebanon and the Parliamentary Committee on Finance and Budget) before their meeting with the audit firm Alvarez & Marsal (in charge of the “forensic audit ”Or forensic audit)“ against any attempt to sabotage the forensic audit ”and, he warned, holds them“ responsible on behalf of the Lebanese people ”. On April 6, 2021, the BDL promised Alvarez & Marsal to deliver all the requested documents by the end of the month.
While the State signed a contract with Alvarez & Marsal on September 1, 2020, the BDL, using the pretext of banking secrecy and the Currency and Credit Code, refuses to answer 73 of the 133 questions asked by the firm of ‘audit. Alvarez & Marsal even threw in the towel in November 2020. However, in December 2020, following a letter sent by Michel Aoun, Parliament lifted banking secrecy on the accounts of the BDL and public institutions.
The BDL and the Ministry of Finance accuse each other of hindering this forensic audit of the BDL, a condition imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the Gulf countries, France and the European Union in view of to help Lebanon. The President of the Republic seems to consider that these accusations are a game played by Nabih Berri and Riad Salamé in cooperation with Saad Hariri, Walid Joumblatt, the ABL and the Parliamentary Committee on Finance and Budget. He considers forensic auditing the mother of all battles, “perhaps more difficult than the liberation of the earth” because “it is a battle against the corrupt and the thief, who are perhaps more dangerous than the occupant or agent ”.
Thus, on April 7, 2021, in a message addressed to the Lebanese and broadcast at 8 p.m. on television, he revealed that the meeting the day before between Alvarez & Marsal, the Ministry of Finance and the BDL did not lead to any concrete results. while a new meeting is to be held on April 9, 2021. He considered that “there is no real desire to carry out the forensic audit” especially since the decision of the Council of Ministers to carry out this audit was taken on March 26, 2020, there is more than ‘one year and that “the negotiations have been replaced by correspondence at a distance”, not between the officials but between their representatives … “We will therefore continue to go around in circles, without delay in time, no safeguards” has t -he adds.
Michel Aoun questioned Riad Salamé: “The real volume of reserves in foreign currencies was not known with precision and the gaps were filled thanks to the funds of the depositors, and that contrary to the law. He added: “At the Central Bank, I say: The main responsibility for the situation rests on your shoulders. You violated the Currency and Credit Code. You should have regulated banking action and taken the necessary steps to protect people’s deposits in banks. You should also have imposed criteria for liquidity. ”
He also blamed Ghazi Wazni and Nabih Berri who opposed the Kroll audit firm, the world’s largest specialist, saying that “unconvincing reasons have been put forward to prevent the Council of Ministers from charging the company international Krol to carry out the forensic audit ”. The President of the Republic recalled that “the Minister of Finance recognized, a few days ago, that the Central Bank refrained from answering a large number of questions addressed to it by Alvarez and Marsal and even added that these procrastination are intended to push the company to give up this mission and to withdraw from the forensic audit, so that it is not carried out and so that the criminals remain unpunished ”.
The Head of State also questioned the banks: “Your responsibility is clear and you cannot escape this reality. People have trusted you by putting their funds in your hands. But you behaved without the slightest sense of responsibility, only concerned with ensuring a quick profit, without taking into account the risks and without respecting the rules of the trade. ”
But also the State: “Governments, administrations, ministries, councils and commissions are all responsible for every book squandered over the years. All must undergo a forensic audit. ”
Finally, he called on countries which like France “show their solidarity with the Lebanese people and demand transparency within the Central Bank and the banking sector, as well as financial and monetary reforms” to help the Lebanese people “to unveil funds transfer operations carried out after October 17, 2019, which took on the aspect of a financial leak ”because“ the funds in foreign currencies were transferred from Lebanon to known banks in countries around the world ”and that “this kind of operations cannot be hidden”.