France probes Lebanese central bank chief’s wealth

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Paris

France has opened a probe into the personal wealth of Riad Salameh, central bank chief in crisis-hit Lebanon, sources told AFP Sunday.

Paris financial prosecutors have opened a preliminary probe into criminal association and money laundering by Salameh, a source close to the investigation and a judicial source said, following a similar move by Switzerland.

Its findings could shed light onto the origins of the 70-year-old former Merill Lynch banker’s wealth.

In post since 1993 and once hailed by political and business leaders, Salameh has been repeatedly accused by the government of caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab of being responsible for the collapse of the Lebanese pound.

The Lebanese public suspect him and other high officials of transferring money abroad during a 2019 uprising, when ordinary people were prevented from doing so. Lebanon has since been hit by an economic crisis which the World Bank says is one of the worst anywhere since the 19th century.—AN

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