A Swiss newspaper said in a report, that Swiss prosecutors are tracking the suspicious money movements of the Lebanese Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh from the British Virgin Islands to Geneva.
Le Temps newspaper said that it had seen the request for Swiss legal aid from the Lebanese judiciary submitted last January, and recorded a series of money movements between Lebanon and Switzerland.
According to the Swiss newspaper, funds worth more than $ 300 million (251 million euros) were transferred by Riad Salameh and his brother Rajaa.
The Swiss request to the Lebanese authorities highlighted, according to Le Temps newspaper, a contract signed on April 6, 2002 between the Central Bank of Lebanon and a company called Forry Associates Ltd, registered in the British Virgin Islands territory, but which has an office in Beirut.
It appears that this contract, signed by Riad Salameh and his brother, allowed Forry Associates to sell Treasury bonds and Eurobonds issued by the Central Bank of Lebanon, for a commission, and this arrangement enabled Forry Associates to increase its account in a private HSBC bank in Geneva by $ 326 million. Between April 2002 and October 2014.
Most of the money that reached the account, which mentioned Raja Salameh as a beneficiary, was immediately transferred to his personal account at HSBC and to five Lebanese institutions.
The Swiss request revealed that Riad Salameh also opened an account with Julius Baer in Zurich in 2008 through a company called Westlake Commercial Inc, based in Panama City, Le Temps reported.
Another account was reportedly opened with UBS in 2012, another account with Credit Suisse in 2016, and finally an account with the Geneva Banque Pictet in 2018.
In the request for legal aid, the Attorney General’s office also expressed suspicion that Riad Salameh acquired real estate property in Switzerland through two Geneva-based companies.
This news comes at a time when Lebanon is suffering from its worst crisis, as the Lebanese pound has lost more than 85 percent of its value against the US dollar on the black market, in a devaluation of the currency that has eroded pensions and salaries.