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Lebanese judge freezes assets of central bank governor accused of corruption

Riad Salameh, the governor of Lebanon's Central Bank, speaks during a press conference, in Beirut, Lebanon, on November 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
Riad Salameh, the governor of Lebanon's Central Bank, speaks during a press conference, in Beirut, Lebanon, on November 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

An investigating judge in Beirut freezes some assets belonging to the country’s central bank governor, who is accused of corruption and dereliction of duties during Lebanon’s unprecedented economic meltdown.

Judge Ghada Aoun says she ordered the freeze “as a precautionary measure” while an investigation into allegations against Gov. Riad Salameh continues. The governor failed to show up for questioning earlier today in a lawsuit filed by a Lebanese anti-corruption group.

Last week, Aoun issued a travel ban for Salameh in the same case. The long-serving central bank governor is also being investigated in a handful of European countries on suspicion of money laundering.

The deeply divided Lebanon is going through its worst economic meltdown, with the value of the national currency plunging, foreign reserves running low and the highly indebted government unable to agree on an economic recovery plan.

Many hold Salameh responsible for the financial crisis, blaming him for policies that only drove national debt up and caused the currency to tumble. But Salameh, 71, has been in the post for nearly three decades and enjoys backing from most politicians, including the country’s prime minister.

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