Salamé case: transnational investigation stumbles on Lebanese banking secrecy

The investigation into the Salamé affair, named after the governor of the Banque du Liban (BDL), Riad Salamé, 71, suspected of laundering and embezzlement of public funds by the French, Swiss and Lebanese courts, is progressing slowly . According to information from World, the magistrates involved in this case are starting to find their way around the maze of holdings, accounts and properties held by the boss of the BDL across Europe, the value of which is estimated at several hundred million dollars. But the key role that the latter continues to exercise on the Lebanese politico-financial scene limits the margin of progress of the investigators, in particular preventing any lifting of bank secrecy on a series of suspicious accounts.

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The investigation in France was able to rely on the work of locating real estate assets of Mr. Salamé to which NGOs engaged, convinced that they are ill-gotten goods. On October 21, by order of the examining magistrate in charge of the investigation on the French side, several Parisian apartments were searched, which belong to Mr. Salamé, his brother Raja and Anna Kosakova, a 44-year-old Ukrainian with whom the great Lebanese financier had a daughter out of wedlock. Swiss daily The weather had revealed, in July, the intriguing real estate heritage of more than ten million euros raised by this woman between 2007 and 2014, on the Champs-Elysées and in the 16e arrondissement.

“The investigation is progressing at a good pace, scongratulate lawyer William Bourdon, who filed a complaint in France against Mr. Salamé, on behalf of the Sherpa association, specializing in the fight against economic crime throughout the world. We have sent a note to the judge with new information. “

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Principle of opacity

The current proceedings are also benefiting from the beginnings of cooperation between the judicial systems of the various European countries where Mr. Salamé’s fortune is discreetly placed. Luxembourg, German, Swiss and British magistrates met on October 14 in The Hague, at the headquarters of Eurojust, the platform for mutual legal assistance of the Member States of the European Union, around the French investigating judge and the Lebanese prosecutor in charge of the Salamé case.

A joint investigation team is being set up, which should facilitate the exchange of information between the different magistrates. “Given the scattering of the goods owned by Riad Salamé, it is necessary to have a pan-European investigation, says Zena Wakim, lawyer for the Swiss foundation Accountability Now, which is behind a second complaint in France. The research should even extend to Monaco, Panama and Singapore, where Riad Salamé, according to our information, has numerous bank accounts. ”

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Salamé case: transnational investigation stumbles on Lebanese banking secrecy