Fresher sanctions on Lebanon’s former Central Bank Governor Riad Salame


Recent sanctions imposed on former Lebanese Central Bank Governor Riad Salame have further intensified, with the total frozen assets tied to him and his associates reaching approximately US$200 million, according to findings by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).

The freshly frozen assets reportedly encompass high-end properties in London and apartments in Wall Street, as gleaned from property records analysis and a leaked French investigative file obtained by journalists.

The United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom imposed these latest sanctions on Salame and his associates on August 10. The move closely followed Salame’s resignation after serving for 30 years at the Banque du Liban (BdL) amidst a series of corruption investigations.

In its announcement, the US Treasury stated that Salame had “misused his position of power, potentially in violation of Lebanese law, to enrich himself and his associates by channeling hundreds of millions of dollars through complex shell companies to invest in European real estate”. The Treasury further underscored that his actions had contributed to Lebanon’s disintegration of the rule of law.

Among those affected by the sanctions are Salame’s brother, Raja, his son Nady, former adviser Marianne Hoayek, and former partner Anna Kosakova.

The sanctions, which build upon measures introduced by European countries in the preceding year, pertain to the freezing of assets, including three Manhattan apartments, valued at US$5.62 million and detailed in US property records and a leaked French investigation file.

In the UK, the sanctions entail the freezing of commercial and residential properties valued at over £41.56 million (US$59.3 million) based on OCCRP’s assessment of property records. Many of these properties were acquired several years ago, and their value is likely to have surged considerably.

Among the UK assets linked to Salame is a London apartment worth £3.5 million (around US$4.1 million at the time of purchase), owned by his son Nady, which overlooks Kensington Gardens in an exclusive postcode. This property was initially acquired by a Panama-based shell company, later transferred to Riad Salame in 2017 and subsequently to Nady Salame a day later.

The newly imposed sanctions underscore a mounting effort to curb corruption and illicit financial activities tied to Salame. Multiple international investigations have scrutinized Salame’s alleged embezzlement and money laundering, implicating him and his associates in extensive financial wrongdoing.

While Salame and his family members have not yet commented on the sanctions, the mounting restrictions curtail his movements and financial capabilities. With multiple Interpol arrest warrants issued against him and a series of criminal investigations across several countries, his legal standing appears increasingly compromised.

In light of the current economic turmoil in Lebanon, where over 80% of the population grapples with poverty, the sanctions convey a strong message against corruption and call for accountability among political elites.

The path to repatriating the frozen assets, however, is complex and dependent on the political will of Lebanese authorities. Efforts could be facilitated by international financial reporting standards adopted by OECD countries and legal tools such as “Unexplained Wealth Orders” that demand individuals to prove the legitimacy of their assets.

As investigations and legal proceedings continue, it remains to be seen how these measures will impact Salame and the broader political landscape in Lebanon.


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