The head of Lebanon’s central bank has claimed an audit he commissioned exonerates him of any wrongdoing, just days after Luxembourg said it had opened “a criminal case” into his financial activities.
Banque Du Liban (BDL) governor Riad Salameh, 71, said a firm he had invited in to review his personal accounts found no evidence of malpractice. He said he was a victim of media smears and speculation.
“I asked a well-known, first-class audit firm to audit operations and investments that were the subject of constant media speculation,” said Salameh.
“I have asked the audit office to review my investments that have been making headlines for the past year.
“These results clearly show that not a single penny was used from public funds to pay fees and commissions to Forry Associates.
“My opponents, who have organized systematic campaigns against me, have misled public opinion by spreading false information that public funds have been used. Nothing prevents me from investing and developing my own wealth, especially since it is only real estate and personal financial investments.”
The review commissioned by Mr Salameh focused on transactions with Forry Associates, a company owned by the banker’s brother.
He says he accumulated his wealth while working as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch.
Salameh has headed BDL since 1993. A forensic audit of the bank’s accounts is widely believed to be integral to Lebanon unlocking any international support as it goes through what the UN has described as one of the worst economic collapses in history.