EU criminal justice agency says 120 million euros in Lebanese assets frozen

EU criminal justice agency says 120 million euros in Lebanese assets frozen
By Reuters
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BEIRUT - The European Union's criminal justice cooperation agency Eurojust Monday said it assisted in freezing some 120 million euros ($132 million) of Lebanese assets linked to a money laundering investigation.

The properties and bank accounts, linked to five people suspected of embezzling around $330 million, were seized in France, Germany, Luxembourg, Monaco and Belgium, Eurojust said in a statement.

It did not identify the suspects. A Eurojust spokesperson declined to comment further and declined to name the suspects, in line with regulations.

Eurojust has been involved in coordinating meetings between countries probing Lebanon Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh, who Swiss prosecutors suspect of embezzling some $330 million along with his brother, Raja, according to a letter the Swiss attorney general sent to Lebanese officials last year, which was seen by Reuters. At least four other nations, including Germany, France and Luxembourg, are also probing Salameh.

A diplomat from one of the countries where the assets were seized confirmed the move was related to the probes into Salameh and his brother.

A spokesperson for the central bank did not respond to a request for comment.

The statement said the assets seized included some 35 million euros worth in Germany that included properties in Hamburg and Munich, two property complexes in Paris worth 16 million euros, and Monaco bank accounts worth 46 million euros.

"Despite the outcome of the action day, the suspects in the main investigation are assumed to be innocent until they have been proven guilty, according to law," the statement said.

($1 = 0.9121 euros)

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