US, UK, Canada sanction former Lebanese Central Bank chief

US, UK, Canada sanction former Lebanese Central Bank chief

'Riad Salameh used his office to engage in a variety of unlawful self-enrichment schemes,' says State Department

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) - A trio of nations sanctioned Lebanon's just retired central bank governor Riad Salameh on Thursday, accusing him of using state funds for his and his family's personal benefit.

The US, UK and Canada are jointly enforcing the economic penalties against Salameh with Washington sanctioning his brother, Raja Salameh, his son Nady Salameh, former partner Anna Kosakova, and his main assistant at the bank, Marianne Hoayek as well.

The UK added Raja Salameh, Kosakova and Hoayek to its blacklist while Canada sanctioned Raja and Hoayek.

"As governor of the Banque du Liban (BdL), Riad Salameh used his office to engage in a variety of unlawful self-enrichment schemes with the help of close family members and associates, ignoring Lebanese law and taking privileges not afforded to average citizens, even as the country sank deeper into financial chaos," State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.

"In doing so, Salameh and his co-conspirators placed their personal financial interests and ambitions above those of the Lebanese people," he added.

Salameh, a former banker at Merrill Lynch, led Lebanon's faltering central bank for three decades, and just recently exited his post amid deepening economic woes in the nation.

The Treasury Department said Salameh used his position to divert hundreds of millions of dollars in state funds that were then processed through shell companies, and invested in real estate in Europe.

The funds were transferred to property management companies in Belgium, France, Germany and Luxembourg that purchased properties registered in the names of Salameh's son and Kosakova, said the Treasury Department.

Salameh also used shell companies based in Panama to purchase shares of an investment company in which his son worked that he later sold to a Lebanese bank regulated by the central bank, it added.


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