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bankingOctober 14, 2020

BDL Hands Over Documents to Forensic Audit Firm


The central bank announced Tuesday that it has submitted documents requested for a forensic audit that will be carried out by a foreign firm at the demand of the Lebanese government.

“Banque du Liban has handed over to the state commissioner to the central bank all the documents and information allowed by the applicable Lebanese laws, in line with the stipulations of the contract signed between the Finance Ministry and the Alvarez & Marsal Middle East Limited (A&M) firm, which is tasked with the forensic audit,” BDL said in a statement.

The government had agreed to hire the New York-based company on July 21 to determine how massive amounts of money were spent in the nation plagued by corruption.

Two other companies, KPMG and Oliver Wyman, were contracted to do traditional accounting audits of central bank accounts.

The government had been calling for a forensic audit into the central bank's accounts since March following the country's first ever default on paying back its massive debt.

'This is a cornerstone on which reform can be built on,' caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab was quoted as saying during a Cabinet meeting. 'This will be a historic decision for Lebanon and will mark a radical change to reveal overspending and theft.'

A Lebanese judge has ordered some of the assets of central bank Gov. Riad Salameh be frozen. The decision, which is symbolic, came after a lawsuit filed by five lawyers who belong to an activist group known as 'the people want to fix the regime.'

The lawyers accused Salameh, who has held the post since 1993, of negligence and inciting people to withdraw their money from bank accounts and selling state bonds.

Since October, Lebanon's currency has lost more than 80% of its value, leading many to blame Salameh for the crash. Protests outside the central bank are not uncommon in Beirut's commercial district of Hamra.

naharnet