Lebanese Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said on Friday that his country's authorities are "seriously discussing" the fate of the Governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon, Riad Salameh, after Beirut received a memorandum from the International Police Organization (Interpol), following the issuance of an international arrest warrant by a French judge against the governor, and calls were issued inside Lebanon for the resignation of the Governor of the Banque du Liban.
The Lebanese interior minister added that he would implement the Interpol warrant against Salameh if the Lebanese judiciary decided to take it into account.
The Interpol warrant was issued after France issued a warrant for Salameh's arrest as part of its investigation into whether he embezzled more than $300 million in Central Bank funds, a charge denied by the governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon.
Aud Borozzi, the French judge tasked with investigating the money and property of the governor of the Banque du Liban in Europe, issued an international arrest warrant for Salameh last Tuesday, after he was absent from an interrogation session before her in Paris.
Pierre Olivier Sur, a lawyer for the governor of Banque du Liban, told AFP that his client's absence was due to his failure to be informed that he must appear before the French judiciary "in due course".
In February, Lebanon's Attorney General Ghassan Oueidat charged Salameh on charges of illicit enrichment and money laundering, noting that Lebanese laws prohibit the extradition of citizens to any foreign country and stipulate their trial inside the country.
Al-Saad on the demands for the dismissal of Banque du Liban Governor Riad Salameh: It is not possible to appoint a new ruler before electing a president, and do we want the current government to appoint the new ruler for the next 6 years?From the media, I learned that there is no allegation from the French judge so far on Salameh, but only a search and investigation warrant, and the judicial path must be left ... pic.twitter.com/BwzDLgLXxd
— Ragy el Saad (@Ragyelsaad) May 18, 2023
A senior judicial official in Lebanon said prosecutor Oueidat, who received the Interpol memorandum, is likely to summon Salameh to an investigation session next week, "after which he will ask the French judiciary to hand over his judicial file and decide if the evidence available in it is sufficient to charge Salameh and try him."
If the charges, ranging from money laundering to illicit enrichment, are proven, "Salameh will be prosecuted in Lebanon," according to the judicial source.
In a television interview with the governor of the Banque du Liban on Thursday evening, Salameh said, "My conscience is clear, the charges against me are not true, and if a verdict is issued against me proving that I am convicted, I will step down from the governorship of the bank."
Salameh plans to challenge the French arrest warrant, saying it violates the principles of the agreement between Lebanon and France.
On Thursday, Shami called on Lebanese Deputy Prime Minister Riad Salameh to resign, after France issued an international arrest warrant against him. "When a person in any country is accused of such crimes, he should not remain in a position of responsibility and should step down immediately," al-Shami told Reuters.
A number of members of the Lebanese parliament also demanded the resignation of the governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon, and on Thursday 10 opposition parties and forces issued a joint statement calling on Salameh to resign, including the signatory parties the Lebanese Kataeb Party led by Sami Gemayel.
Riad Salameh, 72, is one of the world's longest-serving central bank governors, having held office since 1993, and his term ends in July, and Salameh said on Thursday that he would not remain in office after the end of his term.