Lebanon’s embattled Central Bank chief says he will not seek new term

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Lebanon’s veteran central bank chief Riad Salameh said he would not seek a new term in office once his latest six-year stint at the head of the Banque du Liban ends.

“My decision is that, at the end of the term, it will be a page I turned in my life and I will move to work outside the central bank,” Salameh told Saudi Arabia-based Asharq News.

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Salameh’s term is set to end in July.

Lebanese political sources say that there is not yet consensus around a replacement to Salameh, who has held his post for three-decades and retains the support of some of Lebanon’s most powerful politicians, including Speaker Nabih Berri.

The central bank chief, in office for three decades, is widely blamed for monetary policies that contributed to an unprecedented economic crisis in Lebanon, but he has dismissed such criticism.

France, Germany and Luxembourg last March seized assets worth 120 million euros ($130 million) in a move linked to a probe by French investigators into 72-year-old Salameh’s personal wealth.

Lebanon opened its own probe into Salameh’s affairs last year, after the office of Switzerland’s top prosecutor requested assistance with an investigation into more than $300 million allegedly embezzled from the central bank with the help of his brother.

Since the financial crisis hit Lebanon in late 2019, leaving the country bankrupt, Lebanon’s currency has lost more than 95 percent of its value and much of the population has been plunged into poverty.

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