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bankingMarch 17, 2023

Salameh walks free after lengthy questioning before European team

Central bank chief Riad Salameh on Thursday attended a questioning session in the Justice Palace after failing Wednesday to show up before a European legal team visiting Beirut in a money-laundering probe linked to him.

Salameh later left the Justice Palace after a lengthy interrogation session that lasted several hours.

The Europeans questioned Salameh through Lebanese Judge Charbel Abu Samra, acting as a go-between. Under Lebanese laws, they could not directly question Salameh.

The European delegation — with representatives from France, Germany, and Luxembourg — spent about two hours Wednesday at the Justice Palace in Beirut waiting for Salameh.

Salameh’s lawyer showed up and submitted a petition that his client not be questioned by foreign judicial officials. The request was rejected by the prosecutor’s office and a new session was scheduled for Thursday.

It is the European delegation’s second visit to Beirut after a trip in January, when they questioned nine people, including current and former central bank officials, as well as the heads of several banks in the crisis-hit Mediterranean country.

The European delegation is investigating the laundering of some $330 million. The questioning was expected to last until Friday, the judicial officials said.