Aude Bourizi, the French judge in charge of investigating the funds and property of the Central Bank of Lebanon Governor, Riad Salameh in Europe, today (Tuesday) issued an international arrest warrant against him after he was absent from his interrogation session before her in Paris, according to what was reported by “Agence France Presse” from a source familiar with the file.
His lawyer told the agency that Salama was absent on Tuesday, due to his failure to inform him of the obligation to appear before the French judiciary.
Last April, the judge summoned Salama to appear before her on May 16, in a session during which he was likely to be charged.
Salama, his assistant, and his brother Raja are being investigated in Lebanon and at least five European countries on suspicion of appropriating more than $300 million from the Central Bank, while the two brothers deny any wrongdoing.
French prosecutors intend to file preliminary charges and name him as an official suspect during the hearing, which was scheduled for today (Tuesday), according to court documents.
Two sources familiar with Salama’s travel plans said today (Tuesday) that the Governor of the Banque du Liban did not leave Beirut, indicating that the Lebanese judiciary was unable to implement the summons, because it was addressed to Salama at the Central Bank, and he was not present to receive it.
While another judicial source indicated that Salama’s defense lawyer, his brother, and his assistant, Marianne Howayek, submitted an objection before the Lebanese judiciary to the French case, stressing that France should not be allowed to consider a case that is already being investigated in Lebanon.
The three were charged in two separate cases in Lebanon, but Riad and Raja Salameh denied the transfer of public funds, and neither Al-Hawik nor her lawyer spoke publicly about the accusations.
The Lebanese Prosecutor General had said last January that Beirut may postpone cooperation with foreign investigations pending progress in the local investigations.