The Fugitive

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Staff at Lebanon’s central bank began a three-day strike Wednesday as authorities conducted a raid on the institution in a divisive investigation against the bank’s embattled governor Riad Salameh, the National reported.

On Tuesday, Judge Ghada Aoun and security forces entered the Banque du Liban searching for Salameh in vain. Authorities had also raided Salameh’s home in northern Beirut earlier in the day but were not able to locate him.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati criticized the manhunt and said it was inappropriate for a sensitive case in the troubled country.

Meanwhile, Banque du Liban employees condemned the raid, saying it “affected the dignity” of the institution and its staff, and threatened to continue their strike.

Aoun has been investigating Salameh and his brother, Raja, for months, in a probe that has divided the Middle Eastern country. In March, the judge charged both individuals with illicit enrichment and money laundering.

Salameh has been the country’s central bank governor since 1993 but remains a very divisive figure in Lebanon. He has been accused of embezzlement and corruption in a number of European countries, the Associated Press added.

Despite backing by the country’s elite, many Lebanese blame Salameh for Lebanon’s current economic crisis: The local currency has lost more than 90 percent of its value and there are widespread shortages of fuel, medicines, electricity and other essentials.

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