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Lebanon: Riad Salameh’s brother freed from jail on $3.7m bail

by May 13, 2022Arab News

Lebanon’s currency has lost more than 90 per cent of its value against the dollar since  October 2019. Reuters

The brother of Lebanon’s embattled central bank governor Riad Salameh has been released on bail of nearly 100 billion Lebanese pounds ($3.7 million) on Thursday, nearly two months after his arrest on charges of money laundering and illicit enrichment.

Raja Salameh was also banned from leaving the country and his property assets were frozen, state news agency NNA said.

Mr Salameh, 61, denies the charges. His brother Riad was also charged with illicit enrichment but remains free.

Judge Ghada Aoun had ordered Raja Salameh‘s detention after a three-hour interrogation about his role in helping the central bank governor to allegedly launder money through property purchases in France and Luxembourg.

Raja Salameh’s bail amount, equivalent to $3.7m at the market exchange rate, is one of the highest set in Lebanon. The judge who granted him bail, Nicolas Mansour, reduced the amount from 500 billion initially, NNA reported.

The judge ordered Raja Salemeh’s passport to be confiscated and 40 of his properties to be frozen, a court official told AFP.

Lebanon’s currency has lost more than 90 per cent of its value against the dollar since the start of a crippling economic crisis in October 2019 that many Lebanese attribute to corruption and mismanagement among the political elite.

Lebanon's central bank governor Riad Salameh was charged with illicit enrichment. AFP

The accusations against Raja Salameh came after a group of lawyers filed a complaint against him and his brother over the alleged money laundering.

A hearing for Riad Salameh in the case has been scheduled for June 9. He was charged the week after his brother was questioned by Judge Aoun.

Raja Salameh’s lawyer and nephew Marwan Issa El Khoury issued a statement issued after his client’s arrest. “In a period of three hours his status changed from witness to accused, to finally being arrested in total disregard of the most basic and fundamental rules,” the lawyer said.

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