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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Lebanese Foreign Minister meets Swiss ambassador amid central bank corruption allegations

Switzerland has launched an investigation into alleged embezzlement at the Lebanese Central Bank [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 January, 2021

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As a Swiss probe into money laundering and embezzlement at the Lebanese Central Bank continued, Lebanon’s Foreign Minister has met with the Swiss ambassador to the country.

Lebanon's caretaker foreign minister held talks on Monday with the Swiss ambassador to Beirut days after Switzerland started a probe into possible money laundering and embezzlement at the country's central bank.

Minister Charbel Wehbe and ambassador Monika Schmutz Kirgöz did not comment on the investigation at a news briefing after their meeting, saying it is a matter for judicial authorities.

"The Lebanese judiciary today has a request from the Swiss judiciary and I tell you frankly I did not look at any content of this file that Ms Ambassador of Switzerland handed over to the Ministry of Justice before she visited me.

“The file today is with the judiciary and we hope that the Lebanese judiciary will deal freely to take the suitable decision in this regard," Wehbe said

Switzerland's attorney general said last week it has asked Lebanon for cooperation into a probe it started into possible money laundering and embezzlement at the central bank.

It was not clear what prompted the investigation in Switzerland.

The Swiss attorney general's office declined to offer further details.

Riad Salameh, the governor of Lebanon's central bank, has denied he had made any transfers of the bank's funds.

Salameh issued a statement Monday shortly after the meeting between Wehbe and Schmutz Kirgöz saying that reports about large transfers "are very exaggerated and have nothing to do with reality."

Speaking to reporters after the talks, Schmutz Kirgöz said the matter is linked to Switzerland's Ministry of Justice and attorney general "and there is nothing that I can say further."

Wehbe said he did not look at the content of the case Schmutz Kirgöz had passed to Lebanon's Justice Ministry.

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