French prosecutors issue arrest warrant for Lebanon’s central bank chief

Briefly: French prosecutors have issued an arrest warrant (on corruption charges) for the long-time head of Lebanon’s central bank, Riad Salameh. Salameh denies the charges and has called the warrant a “violation of laws”.

Salameh was once considered the guardian of Lebanon’s economy. But many now blame him for a financial implosion that’s plunged millions into poverty.

Half a dozen countries (including Lebanon) are now investigating him and his brother for fraud, including allegations they embezzled $330M over the years.

Intrigue’s take: Just last year, European authorities froze $130M in assetslinked to the investigation. Where there’s smoke there’s often fire, right? But honestly, we haven’t seen this much smoke since Snoop Dogg came to town.

Of course, even if Salameh is guilty, that doesn’t mean he’ll face justice. Lebanon’s powerful elite isn’t exactly known for allowing these kinds of probes. Just last week, the Lebanese judge leading his investigation was dismissed.

Also worth noting:

  • Salameh, who’s been central bank governor for almost 30 years, has said he’ll step down when his current term ends in July.
  • In 2021, the judge investigating the explosion at Beirut’s port the year prior was removed after filing charges against government ministers.