Day of Reckoning

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A Lebanese judge charged the country’s central bank chief with “illicit enrichment” and money laundering even as Lebanon undergoes a deep financial crisis, Agence France-Presse reported Monday.

Judge Ghada Aoun had been investigating Riad Salameh for alleged financial misconduct and ownership of apartments in Paris. She previously imposed a travel ban on the bank director and ordered authorities to bring Salameh in for questioning.

The recent charges came after the top banker failed to appear in court for the fifth time.

Last year, Lebanon launched an inquiry into Salameh’s fortune after Switzerland’s top prosecutor’s office requested assistance in an investigation into more than $300 million which he allegedly embezzled from the central bank with the help of his brother, Raja.

Lebanese authorities arrested Raja last week and charged him with “facilitating money laundering.”

The central bank chief has repeatedly denied the charges. He has accused Aoun of “personal enmity” and said the prosecution is politically motivated.

Even so, Salameh faces legal trouble in other European countries.

Salameh has been Lebanon’s top banker for three decades and has been blamed for the policies that contributed to the country’s financial collapse.

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