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Lebanese judge orders raid of country’s central bank

Lebanese Judge Ghada Aoun, left, leaves the Central Bank following a raid to pursue embattled Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh on corruption charges in Beirut, Lebanon, July 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
Lebanese Judge Ghada Aoun, left, leaves the Central Bank following a raid to pursue embattled Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh on corruption charges in Beirut, Lebanon, July 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

A Lebanese investigative judge with security personnel raids the Central Bank in a divisive investigation against the country’s embattled governor.

Judge Ghada Aoun had been investigating Governor Riad Salameh, and in March charged him with illicit enrichment and money laundering.

A handful of European countries including Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein are also investigating Salameh for alleged money laundering and embezzlement.

Lebanon continues to suffer from a staggering economic crisis that pulled over three-quarters of its population into poverty. Many hold Salameh responsible for the crisis, citing policies that drove up national debt and caused the Lebanese pound to lose 90% of its value against the dollar.

The judge arrives to the Central Bank headquarters in Beirut with personnel from Lebanese State Security, and enters the premises to try to find Salameh.

Aoun tells the press after leaving the premises that she did not find Salameh and was unable to look for him in the building’s offices and storage rooms. “We immediately received a judicial order [to leave],” she says.

State security forces earlier Tuesday raided Salameh’s home, but he was not there.

Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemns the raid in a statement, calling it a “brash” move for a sensitive case in the troubled country.

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