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Lebanon’s Riad Salameh interrogated, assets frozen as citizens raid banks

The judicial proceedings against central bank governor come against the background of a worsening economic and political crisis, and as his term is set to expire next month.
Lebanese protesters take part in a demonstration called for by the banks depositors committee against monetary policies, on May 9, 2023. Lebanon's economic meltdown, described by the World Bank as one of the worst in recent global history, has plunged most of the population into poverty according to the United Nations. (Photo by ANWAR AMRO / AFP) (Photo by ANWAR AMRO/AFP via Getty Images)

BEIRUT — A Lebanese judge on Tuesday questioned Lebanon’s embattled central bank Gov. Riad Salameh in a domestic probe into alleged financial crimes.

At the end of the questioning at the Justice Palace in the capital, Beirut's first investigating Judge Charbel Abou Samra decided to keep Salameh under probe, the official National News Agency said.

Salameh, whose 30-year tenure at the head of the central bank expires at the end of this month, is widely blamed for the country’s 2019 financial collapse. He is the subject of several probes at home and abroad for his alleged role in the embezzlement of public funds, money laundering, forgery, illicit enrichment and tax evasion among other financial crimes.

On Monday, Judge Gabi Shaheen ordered the seizure of Salameh’s assets in Lebanon. “The seizure included luxury real estate and apartments owned by the governor in Beirut, Mount Lebanon and Batroun, in addition to a number of cars,” a judicial official told Agence France-Presse.

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