Lebanon’s Salameh does not attend hearing, session postponed: Sources

Lebanon’s embattled central bank governor Riad Salameh did not attend a corruption probe hearing on Wednesday held by a local judge alongside European investigators after procedural objections by Salameh’s lawyer, two sources told Reuters.

Salameh is being investigated in Lebanon and in at least five European countries over alleged embezzlement of public funds. He denies the charges and says they are part of an attempt to scapegoat him for Lebanon’s financial crisis.

Lebanese authorities last month charged him with a slew of financial crimes and set a first hearing for Wednesday. French and German investigators who arrived in Beirut this week to pursue their own probe into him had been told they could attend the hearing, two source told Reuters earlier.

But on Wednesday, Salameh’s lawyer arrived at the justice palace without him and objected to the presiding judge over the European officials’ presence, a senior judicial source and a second source with knowledge of the developments said.

“Salameh’s lawyer attended and submitted an explanatory memo in which he considered that summoning him to a European investigation session is a violation of the sovereignty of the Lebanese judiciary under the International Anti-Corruption Convention,” the senior judicial source said.

The judicial source said that would allow the state to postpone any mutual legal assistance with foreign investigations. The presiding judge delayed the hearing until Thursday.

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