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bankingJune 17, 2022

Lebanon court rejects recusal of judge in central bank chief graft probe

BEIRUT: A Beirut court has rejected a request by a judge to recuse himself from filing corruption charges against Lebanese central bank governor Riad Salameh, a senior judicial source told Reuters, paving the way for the case to move forward.
Top prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat last week referred Salameh and a number of unidentified associates to a Beirut court after the conclusion of an 18-month preliminary investigation, asking Beirut judge Ziad Abu Haidar to file charges including illicit enrichment, embezzlement, money laundering and tax evasion.
Salameh, who has led the central bank for nearly three decades and retains significant support among Lebanon's top politicians, denies any wrongdoing.
Abu Haidar asked to be recused from the case on the basis that he had expressed an opinion on it, which put into question his impartiality.
That request was rejected Thursday and Abu Haidar now must file the charges, the senior judicial source said.
Abu Haidar could not immediately be reached for comment.
Salameh faces investigations in Lebanon and at least five European countries, including into the alleged embezzlement of more than $300 million by him and his younger brother, Raja.
The brothers were charged in March with illicit enrichment and money laundering in a separate Lebanese case.
The brother also denies any wrongdoing in all the cases against them.