OFAC: Ex-Head of Central Bank of Lebanon Sanctioned

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The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has designated Riad Salameh, the former governor of Lebanon's central bank, and four of his close associates for corrupt and unlawful activities. Salameh allegedly used his position to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars through shell companies for personal enrichment, investing in European real estate.

As governor of the Banque du Liban (BdL), Salameh used his office to engage in a variety of unlawful self-enrichment schemes with the help of close family members and associates. In one scheme, Salameh — with the assistance of his brother, Raja Salameh (Raja) — used a shell company owned by Raja in the British Virgin Islands, Forry Associates, to divert approximately $330 million from transactions involving the BdL.

 As part of this scheme, Salameh approved a contract that allowed his brother’s company to take a commission on purchases of financial instruments by Lebanese retail banks from the BdL, even though Raja’s company provided no apparent benefit for these transactions and the contract avoided naming Forry Associates or its owner.

Salameh and Raja then moved these funds to bank accounts in their own names or the names of other shell companies. Salameh’s primary assistant at the BdL, Marianne Hoayek (Marianne), joined Salameh and Raja in this venture by transferring hundreds of millions of dollars — far more than her official BdL salary accounted for — from her own bank account to those of Salameh and Raja.

 

The designations are coordinated with the United Kingdom and Canada and complement ongoing investigations in Lebanon and Europe. The sanctions are authorized under Executive Order (E.O.) 13441, targeting those who undermine Lebanon’s democratic processes or the rule of law. The sanctions do not extend to the Banque du Liban (BdL) or its U.S. correspondent bank relationships.

Treasury Announcement