Lebanese President Michel Aoun said yesterday, Saturday, that the Lebanese Central Bank’s criminal audit is needed to fight corruption, stressing that it will take the necessary steps to get it back on track following the withdrawal of a consulting firm that is contracted to perform the audit.
In a televised address to mark the 77th anniversary of Lebanon’s independence, President Aoun added that “interest barricades” had been put in place to hinder the investigation process, which he described as a basic requirement of foreign donors and the International Monetary Fund to help Lebanon. help get out of the financial meltdown.
Aoun described the withdrawal of an international accounting firm, Alvarez & Marsal, as a “setback in the logic of state establishment, as criminal scrutiny is the gateway to any reform”.
On the anniversary of his country’s independence, the Lebanese President warned that Lebanon had become “a prisoner of a system of political, financial and administrative corruption covered with shields of various kinds” and “a prisoner of dictates, external disputes and internal hostilities that impede independence,” sovereignty and democracy are just empty words. “
I will not shy away from the issue of financial control in criminal matters, regardless of obstacles, and I will take the necessary steps to resume its course …
The delegates are calling on the nation to fulfill their legislative duty, on the basis of which the people have placed their trust in them.
I call on the media to wage this fight in all fairness and transparency as this is the real arena for the fight against corruption
– General Michel Aoun (@General_Aoun) November 21, 2020
The reason for the withdrawal
The company justified the suspension of its work the day before yesterday, Friday, by not having the required information and documents, and by the lack of certainty to reach that information, despite having obtained at the beginning of this month to complete its work with 3 months to receive the required documents.
President Aoun, his current and some of his allies are accusing the Governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon (Central Bank) Riad Salameh of delaying the presentation of the required documents to the audit company to avoid any violations by Salameh being exposed.
However, the governor of the Banque du Liban emphasizes that banking secrecy laws prevent him from submitting the accounts requested by the accounting firm, except in the presence of an exceptional law enacted by Parliament.
The failure of the criminal justice control of the Central Bank’s accounts would delay the implementation of the reforms demanded by international donors in exchange for providing financial support to the Lebanese government to overcome the country’s economic crisis. come.
Lebanon has been suffering for months from an economic crisis that has been its worst since the end of the civil war, alongside severe political polarization, in a scene where the interests of regional and western countries collide and protests rise from time to time that account demands for the corrupt and ruling class.
The head of the transitional government, Hassan Diab, said on Friday that corruption “has won another round,” in response to the international accounting firm’s announcement that it had withdrawn from auditing the Bank of Lebanon accounts.
On November 3, Diab demanded the Central Bank hand over all documents to the audit company as “any attempt to obstruct the audit is classified as a partnership responsible for causing the suffering of the Lebanese people financially, economically and alive. level.”