Swiss regulator investigates banks in Lebanon's CB Governor embezzlement case

Swiss regulator investigates banks in Lebanon's CB Governor embezzlement case

Shafaq News/ 12 Banks in Switzerland are holding a substantial amount of $300-500 million that the central bank governor of Lebanon, Riad Salameh, is accused of embezzling, Swiss media reported.

Salameh faces investigations related to suspicions of money laundering and illicit enrichment in Lebanon and abroad.

On Thursday, a Lebanese judge, Ghada Aoun, filed new charges against Salameh, his brother Raja and his former assistant Marianne Hoayek for embezzlement of public funds and money laundering.

Salameh and his brother denied all accusations against them.

SonntagsZeitung reported that the Swiss banks had received up to $500 million. $250 million was left on Raja Salameh's account with HSBC's subsidiary in Geneva.

The report added that other amounts ended up with UBS, Credit Suisse, Julius Baer, EFG, and Pictet, with the transactions carried out using an offshore company registered in the British Virgin Islands, named Forry Associates and created in 2001.

"Considerable sums" were allegedly used to buy real estate assets in several European countries.

SonntagsZeitung said some funds have already been frozen, but federal prosecutors have not revealed how much.

Switzerland's federal market regulator FINMA has been conducting preliminary investigations into 12 Swiss banks "for months," it reported.

A spokesman told the weekly that legal proceedings had been started against two banks in the "Lebanese context," but their names were not revealed.

Enforcement proceedings occur when FINMA detects failures at a bank and works to establish what has gone wrong and what measures need to be taken to prevent future breaches of money laundering regulations.

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