Lebanese bank chief accused of embezzling money in Switzerland
Lebanese prosecutors have revealed that the head of the country’s central bank allegedly used banks in Switzerland to embezzle money out of the Lebanese public purse, SongtagsZeitung has reported. The revelation comes as the result of an 18-month probe into whether Riad Salameh, his brother and an assistant embezzled money from the central bank between 2002 and 2015. The suspects deny all charges.
Alleged deposits at HSBC, UBS, Credit Suisse, Julius Baer, EFG and Pictet
According to SongtagsZeitung, 250 million dollars were deposited into Raja Salameh's personal account at a HSBC branch in Geneva, while other sums of money were transferred to Swiss bank accounts at UBS, Credit Suisse, Julius Baer, EFG and Pictet. The newspaper claims that these deposits were made possible by using an offshore company based in the British Virgin Islands.
The ongoing investigation into the missing money started in Lebanon more than 18 months ago, with the suspects only having been charged on 23 February 2023. The Lebanese investigation runs parallel to a number of investigations being carried out by law enforcement organisations around the world, including by the police in Switzerland.
Swiss law enforcement looking into the case
Swiss authorities launched legal proceedings against the governor in October 2020, which are currently ongoing. These proceedings are understood to be related to the alleged money laundering of millions of dollars, but officials have not stated the exact amount.
Estimates of the scale of the alleged embezzlement range from 187 million Swiss francs to 470 million. According to the SontagsZeitung, proceedings have been initiated against two financial institutions in the "Lebanese context” but the names of these organisations have not been publicly disclosed.
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