Alvarez & Marsal pulls out from Lebanon central bank audit, says Finance Minister

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Restructuring consultancy Alvarez & Marsal has pulled out of a forensic audit of Lebanon's central bank because it did not receive information required to carry out the audit, caretaker Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni told Reuters on Friday.

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The presidency also issued a statement saying Wazni informed President Michel Aoun of the consultancy’s decision to quit the contract for the audit, which is a key demand for foreign assistance to help Lebanon escape financial meltdown.

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The statement said Alvarez & Marsal had told Wazni that “it was not certain it would receive the information” even with a three-month extension announced on November 5 for the central bank to provide data it had so far withheld.

The central bank, which has faced close scrutiny since the financial crisis came to a head in October 2019, has said it provided its own accounts for the audit and that the government should submit full state accounts to “spare the central bank from violating legally binding bank secrecy laws.”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and foreign donors including France have pressed for the audit to tackle endemic waste and corruption as Lebanon grapples with a financial crisis that prompted a sovereign debt default, crashed the currency and paralyzed the banking sector.

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