A Lebanese prosecutor charged Governor Riad Salameh of the central bank with dereliction of duty and loss of faith over the regulator’s suspected abuse of millions of dollars last year.
Judge Ghada Aoun investigated allegations that, through an electronic trading site, dollars issued by the central bank to help citizens pay for basic needs and expenses were traded on the black market, where they would get a better price.
From June through December, between $5 million and $7 million was squandered, Aoun told Bloomberg. Thirty-seven financial institutions have benefited from such trades, like money exchange bureaus, she added.
Salameh did not respond to an emailed request for comment immediately.
To investigate it, Aoun referred the matter to an investigating court. Salameh, who has headed the Banque du Liban since 1993, is now interested in a related Swiss probe into the Lebanese central bank’s alleged embezzlement.
The target of their money-laundering investigation was not identified by the Swiss, but Lebanon’s Al Akhbar newspaper reported a suspected payment of some $400 million connected to Salameh.
In the Swiss situation, the governor has denied misconduct.
Under Lebanese law, the president of the central bank receives immunity from judicial action. Before bringing a lawsuit, a judge wants the consent of the government as acts against the governor threaten fiscal stability.
The money of Lebanon has been undone in the wake of its worst financial recession in decades, hitting about 8,800 pounds a dollar on the black market.
At the official rate of exchange of 1,500 per dollar, the central bank continues to subsidize fuel and wheat. 3,900 was the subsidized rate which applied to the electronic platform.