Lebanon's Central Bank Governor denies transferring funds abroad as Swiss open inquiry

Salameh's statement came after it was revealed Swiss authorities had opened an investigation into money transfers linked to the governor

  
Lebanon's Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh holds a news briefing in Beirut, Lebanon December 4, 2018. REUTERS/Dalati Nohra/Handout via REUTERS

Lebanon's Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh holds a news briefing in Beirut, Lebanon December 4, 2018. REUTERS/Dalati Nohra/Handout via REUTERS

BEIRUT: Central Bank Gov. Riad Salameh Tuesday dismissed as "fabrications and false news" reports that he, his brother and an assistant had transferred abroad millions of dollars.

Salameh's statement came after it was revealed Swiss authorities had opened an investigation into money transfers linked to the governor.

“The governor confirms that, as always, BDL adheres to the applicable Lebanese and international laws, and cooperates with all those concerned with Lebanon and its financial and banking status both at home and abroad,” a BDL statement read.

It added that Salameh is certain that "all claims about alleged financial transfers that he made abroad, whether in his name, his brother's or in the name of his assistant, are fabrications and false news that have no basis and will be the subject of judicial prosecution.”

The justice minister said earlier in the day she had received a request from Swiss judicial authorities to cooperate on an inquiry into money transfers by Salameh.

A government official confirmed that Swiss authorities had opened an investigation into transfers made by Salameh. "Both the prime minister and the president are in the loop on the move," the official said.

"I have submitted the request to the public prosecutor to do what is necessary," Justice Minister Marie-Claude Najm said.

The Al-Akhbar newspaper said that the prosecution office received information about bank transfers belonging to the governor, his brother Raja Salameh, and his aide Marianne Howeik, in the amount of $400 million.

Lebanon is grappling with a deep financial crisis that has hammered the currency, spread poverty and prompted a sovereign debt default. The crippled banking system has cut people's access to their dollar accounts since last year.

Salameh, a former Merrill Lynch banker, has led Lebanon's Central Bank since 1993.

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