Lebanon cenbank governor working from office despite legal pressure - sources

Lebanon's Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh speaks during a news conference at Central Bank in Beirut
Lebanon's Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh speaks during a news conference at Central Bank in Beirut, Lebanon, November 11, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo

BEIRUT, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Lebanon's central bank governor Riad Salameh is working normally from his office where he chaired a meeting on Wednesday, a day after security services sought him for a court hearing over alleged misconduct, according to three sources, including one from the central bank.

The security services were acting on the order of Judge Ghada Aoun, who has issued an open-ended subpoena against Salameh after he failed to attend several hearings as a witness in ongoing investigations.

Two of the sources said Salameh had been staying at an apartment in the central bank building. Salameh did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Salameh, who has headed the central bank for nearly three decades, has been accused of fraud and other misconduct in the lead-up to Lebanon's financial meltdown in 2019. read more

He faces a number of other investigations in European countries.

Salameh has denied any wrongdoing and has described accusations against him as politically motivated. He has sought for Judge Aoun to be dismissed from cases against him, accusing her of bias.

On Tuesday State Security, one of Lebanon's main agencies, sought Salameh at the central bank and two personal residences, but were unable to locate him, according to a senior security source and local media.

Some media reports suggested State Security had been impeded by another agency, the Internal Security Force (ISF), and Aoun told Reuters on Wednesday that she had charged the ISF's head, Imad Osman, with preventing the execution of a judicial order.

The ISF denied in a statement that it had prevented the execution of the subpoena, saying Osman had spoken by phone with the head of State Security and that the two were working in coordination.

The ISF and State Security are seen as having different political allegiances within Lebanon's sectarian political system.

Salameh has faced increased scrutiny since the onset of Lebanon's financial collapse but continues to enjoy the support of senior politicians including the prime minister.

Reporting by Laila Bassam, Samia Nakhoul and Timour Azhari; writing by Aidan Lewis Editing by Gareth Jones

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