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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat

Lebanese PM: Agreement Needed on New Chief Before Probe Takes Course

Lebanese PM Najib Mikati. AFP

Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati said on Tuesday a political agreement on a new central bank governor was required before a probe into current head Riad Salameh progresses.

He made his comments shortly after a judicial raid on the Beirut headquarters of Banque du Liban, a move Mikati denounced as inappropriate because the bank dealt with issues related to monetary stability and it could lead to an "ominous shock."

"What is required is that this file be dealt with via prior political agreement on a new governor of the Banque du Liban, and that the case take its appropriate legal course after that," a statement from Mikati's office said, Reuters reported.

Salameh, the central bank governor for about three decades, faces corruption probes in at least five European countries and in Lebanon, which has been plunged into a deep financial crisis that critics blame, in part, on his policies. He has defended his actions and denied wrongdoing, saying the investigations are politically motivated and aim at scapegoating him for the Lebanon's financial problems.

Judge Ghada Aoun charged Salameh in March with illicit enrichment related to a case involving the purchase of Paris apartments by him and his close associates that were subsequently rented to the central bank Salameh heads.

Aoun ordered Tuesday's central bank raid to implement a subpoena against Salameh but was unable to find him, according to statements by Aoun to local news outlets.

A central bank spokesperson told Reuters he had received conflicting information on whether Salameh was at the central bank at the time of the raid and so could not confirm whether he was there or not.

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