Hezbollah leader calls on Lebanon’s central bank governor to resign amid mounting legal troubles

BEIRUT — The head of Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group on Friday called on the country’s central bank governor to resign amid mounting legal problems.

The governor, Riad Salameh, must either leave or be stripped of his duties, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Iran-backed Hezbollah, declared in a televised speech about the 2000 Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon.

On Wednesday, Salameh was questioned by a Lebanese judge and his Lebanese and French passports were confiscated after France issued an arrest warrant on corruption charges. Dual citizen.

The development effectively prevents Salameh from traveling abroad. Lebanon does not extradite its citizens to foreign countries or international courts.

“In Hezbollah, we believe there are two options. The first is for the governor to step down of his own accord,” Nasrallah said. The second, he says, is for the judiciary to take legal action against Salameh and remove him from his post.

With his statements, Nasrallah called for Salameh’s resignation for the first time. A number of government officials have made similar calls, but no official decision was made at Monday’s cabinet meeting.

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France, Germany and Luxembourg are investigating Salameh and his associates for a range of alleged financial crimes, including the illicit enrichment and money laundering of $330 million. On May 16, a French investigative judge issued an international arrest warrant and an Interpol red notice against Salameh, 72, after he failed to appear for questioning in Paris.

Salameh, once seen as a guardian of Lebanon’s financial stability, is now widely blamed for the economic collapse that began in 2019. The value of the Lebanese pound has since plummeted, wiping out most of the average Lebanese’s savings and an estimated three-quarters of Lebanese savings. the population is impoverished.

Salameh, who is also under investigation in Lebanon, has repeatedly denied all corruption allegations, saying he made his fortune from his years as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch, inheriting real estate and investing. He said he would only resign if found guilty. He also said last week that he intends to appeal the Interpol red notice.

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Salameh has been in his post for almost 30 years, but says he plans to leave after his current term expires in July.

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/hezbollah-chief-calls-lebanons-central-bank-governor-resign-99613820