French judiciary transfers central bank chief seized assets to Lebanon – minister

BEIRUT (Reuters) – The French judiciary has transferred the seized assets of Lebanon’s central bank governor Riad Salameh, and his associates, to the Lebanese state, the media office of Lebanon’s caretaker justice minister Henry Khoury said on Tuesday.

Salameh, 72, who has been in post for three decades, is the subject of investigations and arrest warrants in France and Germany over allegations of corruption and money laundering.

A judiciary source in Paris said the Court of Appealon Tuesday had upheld the confiscation of millions of euros’ worth of assets linked to Salameh and some of his associates, which were being contested by their lawyers.

“All of the confiscation orders were upheld by the court,” the source said. However, the source did not comment on whether the assets had been transferred to the Lebanese state.

In 2022, Europe’s agency for criminal justice cooperation, known as Eurojust, announced the seizure of some 120 million euros ($127.78 million) of Lebanese assets in France, Germany, Luxembourg, Monaco and Belgium.

Though the agency did not name any suspects, prosecutors in the German city of Munich confirmed to Reuters that Salameh was a suspect in the case that led to the asset seizure.

Once celebrated as a financial wizard, Salameh is spending his final weeks in office a wanted man. His legacy was already in tatters after the collapse of Lebanon’s financial system in 2019, a catastrophe many blame on him and the ruling elite.

(Reporting by Maya Gebeily and Estelle Shirbon, Editing by William Maclean)