Corruption exposed: US sanctions target Riad Salameh's network

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2023-08-11 | 01:20
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Corruption exposed: US sanctions target Riad Salameh's network
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Corruption exposed: US sanctions target Riad Salameh's network

All allegations that the United States was protecting the former Governor of Banque du Liban, Riad Salameh, came crashing down after the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on him, his brother Raja, his son Nadi, and his assistant Marianne Howayek.

This article was originally published in and translated from Lebanese newspaper Nidaa al-Watan.
The accusations include "corrupt and unlawful activities by Salameh that contributed to the collapse of the rule of law in Lebanon," noting that these sanctions were "coordinated with both the UK and Canada."

The Treasury Department also stated, "Salameh abused his position, likely violated Lebanese law, to enrich himself and his associates by channeling hundreds of millions of dollars through multiple fake companies to invest in European real estate."

Informed legal sources have confirmed that "these types of sanctions are of a global nature, as it relates to any investment and bank account in dollars."

Furthermore, these sources do not rule out the possibility of opening the door for Salameh to "strike a deal with the Americans, whereby Salameh becomes a collaborator, conditional on providing confessions that include information about 'Hezbollah' and prominent members of Lebanon's governing system."

"These individuals are accused by Americans and Europeans of corruption and causing the financial collapse, as well as obstructing the investigations of the Beirut Port blast and hindering constitutional and economic obligations. This includes matters such as the election of a president and the implementation of reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund."

A source in the Treasury Department's Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence stated, "More sanctions will be issued soon against those who persist in believing that the Lebanese elite does not need to abide by the same rules that apply to all Lebanese."

In addition to politicians, the sanctions might also encompass several judges involved in protecting Salameh and obstructing the port investigation, numbering no less than three.

It was also notable that the name of Riad Salameh's son was included among those being sanctioned. He has been associated with a financial company that manages the wealth of several politicians, influential figures, wealthy individuals, and bankers. Additionally, banks like Bank Audi, Bank Al-Mawarid, and other banks also have connections to those mentioned above.

Just hours after the issuance of the US sanctions, the caretaker Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, quickly requested the General Secretariat of the Cabinet to provide copies of the preliminary report of the forensic audit of the Central Bank of Lebanon's accounts to the ministers, the General Secretariat of the Parliament, and the General Directorate of the Presidency. The report is expected to be made available for publication very soon.

The concerned sources linked the sanctions and the swift distribution of the report, anticipating a phase in which each party tries to distance itself as much as possible from the course of the sanctions that might sweep away well-known entities within the system of mafia and militia governance.

On another note, a judicial source involved in the local investigation with Salameh told Nidaa Al-Watan that the head of the Judiciary Issues Authority at the Ministry of Justice, Judge Helana Iskandar, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Lebanese state against Judge Charbel Abu Samra before the General Assembly of the Court of Cassation.

This raises doubts about Abu Samra's neutrality and the possibility of favoring Salameh.

However, the same source explained that "the interest of the state prompted Judge Iskandar to file this lawsuit as it is the proper way to safeguard the state's rights at this stage.
As an effect of this lawsuit, Judge Abu Samra is prevented from investigating all cases in which the Lebanese state is a party, including cases against Raja Salameh, Marianne Howayek, and others, not only Riad Salameh.

In a manner resembling an insistence on denying Lebanon's severe and multiple crises, the Speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri, has called for a legislative session on August 17th.

In addition, on the agenda of this session is the approval of the draft law for the sovereign fund for oil and gas.

In this context, sources monitoring the situation said this is seen as a "new attempt by the system to promise the Lebanese people relief and comfort from a sector that has yet to prove its viability.

However, Berri and others, according to political sources, believed that they still possess the ability to divert attention and try to work for the benefit of the people, instilling hope in them for a prosperous future that would help them forget the grim reality that they have led the people into.
 

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