The US and the UK have imposed sanctions on Lebanon’s scandal-hit former central bank Governor Riad Salameh, days after the end of his three-decade tenure.
(Bloomberg) — The US and the UK have imposed sanctions on Lebanon’s scandal-hit former central bank Governor Riad Salameh, days after the end of his three-decade tenure.
“Salameh abused his position of power, likely in violation of Lebanese law, to enrich himself and his associates by funneling hundreds of millions of dollars through layered shell companies to invest in European real estate,” the US Treasury said in a statement on Thursday.
Salameh, who stepped down last month, is one of the suspects in a joint investigation by France, Germany and Luxembourg that’s probing money laundering and embezzlement of public funds in Lebanon between 2002 and 2021. Salameh has repeatedly denied charges against him.
His brother Raja, his assistant Marianne Hoayek and Ukrainian Anna Kosakova — who the Treasury says is the ex-governor’s former partner — were also added to the US and UK sanction list.
Wanted: Central Bank Chief to Bring Lebanon Back From the Brink
Salameh, who was a private banker at Merrill Lynch before becoming governor in 1993, played a key role in maintaining Lebanon’s currency peg for over two decades before it unraveled from late 2019. The former Banque du Liban chief is widely blamed for continuously funding the government and setting up the now-infamous financial engineering that kept the system afloat.
The banking sector is facing about $70 billion in losses, the central bank devalued the pound by 90% and the country defaulted on its debt, including for the first time in its history. The official inflation rate is above 250%.
Bloomberg reported in 2021 that officials within the administration of US President Joe Biden were discussing the possibility of coordinated measures with their European counterparts against Salameh. At the time, the US Treasury said the report was untrue.
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