The French Judiciary issued an international arrest warrant for Lebanon’s central bank governor Riad Salameh after failing to appear at a hearing in Paris. Salameh was being investigated for his alleged involvement in a suspected embezzlement case of $330 million in money transfers to an offshore company between 2002 and 2015.
Salameh has always denied any wrongdoings, but a French judge issued an arrest warrant to his name after he failed to appear in a scheduled hearing, and Lebanon’s judiciary were informed on Thursday of this notice.
Unfortunately, the Interpol’s red notice is a non-binding request for law enforcement authorities worldwide and Lebanon does not have an extradition agreement with France or any other country. This means that Salameh is unlikely to be extradited but instead will be tried according to Lebanon’s internal laws. A similar notice for financial misconduct was issued for Carlos Ghosn few years back but Lebanese authorities ignored it as well and instead protected Ghosn.
All in all, we cannot but welcome any step to bring to justice those behind the financial crisis in Lebanon but it appears that the French are playing politics and nothing more, and I don’t have any hopes that Salameh’s notice will get him to spill the beans and be the first domino to fall. He’s due to leave his office in a month time anyway and will probably be forgotten afterwards, just like everything else in this country.