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Germany cancels warrant for ex-Lebanon central bank head Salameh

Germany cancels warrant for ex-Lebanon central bank chief Riad Salameh
2 min read
A German court cancelled an arrest warrant against Riad Salameh since he is no longer in office, a spokesperson for the Munich public prosecutor's office said.
Former Lebanese central bank chief Riad Salameh [JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty-archive]

A German court has cancelled an arrest warrant for former Lebanese central bank chief Riad Salameh because he can no longer use the post to suppress evidence, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

After an appeal by Salameh, a Munich court has "cancelled the arrest warrant because the suspect… no longer holds the office of Governor of the Lebanese central bank", a spokeswoman for the Munich public prosecutor's office told AFP.

Salameh, who left his post in July last year, is widely viewed as a key element in Lebanon's dramatic economic crash.

Germany, along with France, issued an arrest warrant for Salameh in May 2023 over accusations including money laundering and fraud.

The cancellation of the warrant was made because there was "no longer any risk that he will suppress evidence" since stepping down as governor of the central bank, the spokeswoman said.

The court ruling, dated 10 June, however "confirmed the urgent suspicion with regard to the accusations made against the suspect" Salameh.

At the same time, the Munich court also "dismissed an appeal against an arrest order… on the basis of which assets worth millions were secured by the public prosecutor's office".

"Our investigations are ongoing," the spokeswoman said.

Salameh is the subject of judicial probes at home and abroad into allegations made against him.

Lebanon has frozen Salameh's bank accounts, while Britain, Canada, and the United States have slapped sanctions on the 73-year-old.

Salameh has denied all charges against him.

Since late 2019, Lebanon has been mired in an economic crisis that the World Bank has dubbed one of the worst in modern times, leaving many in poverty.

Since the outbreak of Israel's war on Gaza, there have been regular exchanges of fire, mainly between the Israeli army and Lebanese armed group Hezbollah, which reversed a slight recovery for Lebanon, the World Bank said.