Lebanese judge imposes travel ban on central bank governor amid probe


Beirut (Reuters) – A Lebanese judge said on Tuesday she had imposed a travel ban on central bank governor Riad Salameh, who is at the centre of investigations into his conduct launched after Lebanon plunged into a deep financial crisis.

Salameh, who said he had no knowledge of the latest move when asked for comment by Reuters, is being probed by authorities in Lebanon and at least four European countries, including a Swiss inquiry over alleged money laundering.

Salameh has denied wrongdoing during his three decades as governor. He has stayed in his post even as the economy has been crushed by a mountain of debt, the currency has collapsed and swathes of the nation have been driven into poverty.

Judge Ghada Aoun told Reuters she had imposed the ban as part of a Lebanese investigation she is leading into the conduct of Salameh, whose tenure as governor has come under scrutiny since the crisis erupted in 2019.

She said the next stage of her probe would be to question the governor.

A judicial source said Aoun’s probe included investigating alleged fraud and complaints about the governor by depositors, who have been locked out of savings held by crippled Lebanese banks.

The source said the investigation also included looking at the central bank’s “financial engineering” operations, a range of mechanisms that amounted to offering banks lavish returns to attract dollars into Lebanon.

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