European delegation ends 1st round of questioning in Lebanon

Jan 19, 2023, 7:22 PM | Updated: Jan 20, 2023, 9:29 am
Protesters with frozen bank deposits demonstrate outside the Justice Palace in Beirut, Lebanon, Tue...

Protesters with frozen bank deposits demonstrate outside the Justice Palace in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. A European judicial delegation from France, Germany, and Luxembourg continue probing the country's Central Bank governor and dozens of other individuals over suspected corruption. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

BEIRUT (AP) — A European legal team on Friday wrapped up the first round of questioning of Lebanese bankers and current and former Central Bank officials in Beirut, officials in Lebanon said. The questioning is part of a probe on money laundering linked to Lebanon’s Central Bank governor.

Lebanon is grappling with the worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history. The economic meltdown, which began in October 2019 and is rooted in decades of corruption and mismanagement by the country’s political class, has plunged more than 75% of the tiny nation’s population of 6 million into poverty.

The European judicial delegation — with representatives from France, Germany, and Luxembourg — questioned nine people this week, including current and former central bank officials as well as the heads of several banks in the Middle East country, several Lebanese judicial officials told The Associated Press.

The officials, who are close to the probe, spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The delegation arrived in Beirut earlier this month to interrogate embattled Central Bank governor, Riad Salameh, and more than two dozen other people, some of them his close associates, in a European money laundering investigation of some $330 million.

In March last year, authorities in France, Germany and Luxembourg froze more than $130 million in assets linked to the investigation.

There have been reports that a brokerage firm, Forry Associates Ltd., owned by Raja Salameh — the brother of the Central Bank governor — was hired by the Central Bank to handle government bond sales in which the firm received $330 million in commissions.

The governor, who has denied all charges of corruption, calling them politicized, said earlier that “not a single penny of public money” was used to pay the brokerage firm.

Switzerland and Liechtenstein have also opened probes against Gov. Riad Salameh on money laundering allegations.

The Lebanese chief prosecutor’s office on Friday said Lebanese judicial officials helped the European delegation in the investigation regarding money transfers in the three countries. It did not provide any further details.

It was unknown when the European delegation would return to Lebanon to continue the investigation and whether it would question the Central Bank governor himself.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - Bryan Kohberger, who is accused of killing four University of Idaho students in Nov. 2022, a...
Associated Press

News groups ask Idaho Supreme Court to reject University slayer gag order

Thirty news organizations have asked the Idaho Supreme Court to overturn a gag order in a case against a man accused of stabbing four students to death.
10 hours ago
Nathan Chasing Horse stands in court. Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, in North Las Vegas, Nev. Nathan Chasing...
Associated Press

‘Dances With Wolves’ actor charged in 2018 rape in PNW

Canadian police confirmed Tuesday they are pursuing a criminal case against a former "Dances With Wolves" actor who was arrested last week and charged in Nevada with sexually abusing and trafficking Indigenous women and girls.
10 hours ago
In this photo provided by Chad Fish, a large balloon drifts above the Atlantic Ocean, just off the ...
Associated Press

Not just balloons: How US sees China spying as major worry

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Chinese balloon that traversed the United States before being shot down last weekend captivated public attention and drew sharp denunciations as a brazen spying effort. But if the vehicle for espionage seemed novel, the concept was anything but. In ways that are far less public, but often more worrisome, U.S. officials […]
1 day ago
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gives a peace sign as he is applauded by Speaker of the Hou...
Associated Press

Zelenskyy flies West: If it’s Thursday, this must be Belgium

BRUSSELS (AP) — First, the Ukrainian president flew overhead on his way to Washington. Then on Wednesday, Volodymyr Zelenskyy flew overhead to Britain. And then to Paris. Fourth time lucky? He might stop by the European Union headquarters where the bloc’s leaders meet on Thursday — security concerns permitting. Almost a year after the Russian […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Mexico finds 14 bodies in overturned pickup truck in canal

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Authorities in northern Mexico say they have found the bodies of 14 people in an overturned pickup truck submerged in a canal. The civil defense office in the northern border state of Nuevo Leon said Wednesday that five Guatemalan identification cards or passports were found on the bodies. The office said […]
1 day ago
Students return to Richneck Elementary in Newport News, Va., on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023.  The element...
Associated Press

Parents at school where boy, 6, shot teacher prepare to sue

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The families of two students at a Virginia elementary school where a 6-year-old shot and wounded his teacher have filed notices of potential legal action against the school system over trauma they say the shooting inflicted on their children. The parents of a first-grader said their daughter was in the classroom […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
European delegation ends 1st round of questioning in Lebanon