Article: France opens graft probe into Lebanon’s central bank chief

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France opens graft probe into Lebanon’s central bank chief

Associated Press, 07 June 2021

PARIS — The French national financial prosecutor’s office has opened a preliminary investigation into the actions of Lebanon’s central bank governor involving potential money laundering, the prosecutor’s office said Monday.

The French move came months after Switzerland started a probe into possible money laundering and embezzlement at Lebanon’s central bank, which is now at the center of an unprecedented financial crisis roiling the small Mediterranean country. The French prosecutor’s office said the investigation around Riad Salameh was opened in late May involving potential charges of money laundering and association with an organized criminal group. It gave no further details.

Salameh, 70, who has run Lebanon’s central bank for nearly three decades was for many years seen as the symbol of monetary stability in the tiny country. But Lebanon was in 2019 plunged into its worst economic and financial crisis. The Lebanese pound, pegged for more than 20 years to the dollar at 1,515, is now trading at nearly 13,000 on the black market.

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