On Thursday, Lebanese Judge Helena Iskandar, the head of the Cases Authority at the Ministry of Justice, requested that former central bank governor Riad Salameh be detained.
In instances involving the alleged money laundering of more than $330 million by Mr. Salameh and his colleagues, Ms. Iskandar represents the Lebanese state both locally and internationally.
In order to assert its rights and ask for the restitution of diverted monies in the event of a conviction, the Lebanese state, who was acknowledged as a victim in the case, took action in March by joining as a civil party.
“We are hoping for the arrest order to be issued,” Ms. Iskander said to The National.
She asserted, “I have the right as a plaintiff on behalf of the Lebanese state.
She stated that she had appealed Charbel Abou Samra, Beirut’s First Investigative Judge, decision to release Mr. Salameh during a hearing on Wednesday. Instructing Mr. Salameh to be accessible for additional legal proceedings, Mr. Abou Samra did not provide a time or date for the next hearing. “I have the right to appeal the decision,” Ms. Iskander stated.
The prosecutor’s office will next have to determine whether to uphold the investigative judge’s ruling or to issue an arrest warrant for the man, she said. In March, Ms. Iskandar sued Mr. Salameh, his brother Raja Salameh, and his assistant Marianne Hoayek for money laundering, bribery, forgery, unlawful enrichment, and tax evasion.
This was a long-awaited move that, if Mr. Salameh is found guilty, may open the door for Lebanon to retrieve the assets that were reportedly purchased with more than $330 million in stolen public monies. She also gave the state the order to seize the trio’s domestic assets.
At least six European nations, including Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland, have launched investigations to find out whether Mr. Salameh and his family’s pricey European properties were bought with money taken from the central bank.
A different investigation was started in Lebanon in 2021, and after an 18-month investigation, charges were brought against Mr. Salameh, his brother, and Ms. Howayek in February. Mr. Abou Samra received the file in February, but little has been accomplished so far.
A warrant for Mr. Salameh’s arrest was issued in April by both France and Germany, and two Interpol red notices followed. After 30 years in command of the central bank, Mr. Salameh resigned on Monday at the end of his term. He has constantly maintained his innocence, stating that no public money ever entered his private accounts.