French prosecutors title Ukrainian suspect in Lebanese central financial institution probe By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Lebanon’s Central Financial institution constructing is pictured behind a razor wire fence, in Beirut, Lebanon October 5, 2022. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

By David Gauthier-Villars

(Reuters) – French prosecutors mentioned on Monday they’ve put a Ukrainian girl linked to the governor of Lebanon’s central financial institution below formal investigation as a part of a cross-border probe into alleged fraud to the detriment of the Lebanese state.

Anna Kosakova, with whom central financial institution governor Riad Salameh has a daughter, in response to a start certificates seen by Reuters, is suspected of aggravated cash laundering, a spokesperson on the Paris workplace of the Nationwide Monetary Prosecutors mentioned.

Kosakova, who was notified in regards to the preliminary fees on June 14, needed to hand over her passport and was ordered to not go away France, the spokesperson mentioned, confirming a report by French on-line journal Mediapart.

A lawyer for Kosakova mentioned he and his consumer would “react very quickly” to the French prosecutors’ choices.

Salameh, who has not been named as a suspect by French prosecutors however who had a few of his actual property property in France seized as a part of the investigation, didn’t reply to a message in search of remark.

A French lawyer for Salameh, Pierre-Olivier Sur, mentioned the June resolution on Kosakova “would not change something”. He mentioned they had been ready for a French court docket to listen to their problem of the property seizures.

The French investigation is a part of coordinated efforts by prosecutors in Lebanon, in addition to in Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg and Lichtenstein to find out whether or not Salameh used his place on the central financial institution, often known as Banque du Liban (BDL), to embezzle a whole bunch of tens of millions of {dollars} in public funds.

Swiss authorities suspect Salameh, along with a brother, Raja Salameh, might have illegally taken greater than $300 million from BDL between 2002 and 2015, laundering a number of the cash in Switzerland, in response to Swiss court docket paperwork seen by Reuters.

In an interview with Reuters in November final yr, Riad Salameh denied any wrongdoing, saying no BDL or public Lebanese funds had been diverted. An individual near Raja Salameh declined to remark.

In Germany, prosecutors have mentioned they had been investigating the likelihood that a number of the funds recognized by Swiss authorities had been used to amass actual property property, notably in Munich.

For his or her half, French prosecutors try to find out whether or not the Salameh bothers used a few of these funds to amass actual property in France, together with a part of a constructing on the Champs Elysees, in response to folks accustomed to the investigation.

Within the interview with Reuters, Riad Salameh has mentioned he purchased actual property property along with his personal cash, earned when he labored as an funding banker. Questioned by French investigators final yr in regards to the acquisitions, Raja Salameh denied any wrongdoing.

The Champs Elysees constructing has caught the eye of prosecutors in France in addition to in Lebanon as a result of, in response to firm data and lease contracts seen by Reuters, it homes a enterprise heart managed by Kosakova, a part of which was rented by the Lebanese central financial institution.

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