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Lebanon hires international consulting firm to conduct audit

Alvarez & Marshal will conduct a type of audit focused on financial crimes and money tracing amid allegations of corruption and money laundering by top Lebanese officials.

Lebanon hired an international consulting firm on Friday to conduct an audit focused on money tracking. 

Finance Minister Youssef Khalil signed the contract with the New York-based Alvarez & Marshal to perform a forensic audit of the Lebanese government. 

Lebanon is in the throes of a devastating economic and energy crisis. The situation began in 2019, and since then, the Lebanese pound has lost more than 90% of its value against the dollar. The 2020 explosion in Beirut’s port worsened the situation. Lebanon was also without a permanent governmental Cabinet for more than a year until Prime Minister Najib Mikati finally formed one last week. Popular anger and anti-government protests have occurred throughout the crisis. 

Forensic audits trace the movement of money, often with the aim of uncovering financial wrongdoing. 

The head of Lebanon’s Central Bank Riad Salameh has been accused of transferring hundreds of millions of dollars outside the country. Switzerland started a money laundering investigation focused on Salameh in April, and France opened a probe into his personal wealth in June. Other Lebanese politicians have also been accused of corruption

Alvarez & Marshal will submit their initial report to Lebanon within 12 weeks, according to the National News Agency. Employees for the firm did not immediately respond to Al-Monitor's request for comment on the audit.

The United States and France have long demanded the Lebanese government institute governance and anti-corruption reforms before delivering more assistance to the country. 

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