Europe’s Most Wanted: Lebanon’s Central Bank Chief?

How will Lebanon’s economic crisis end?

France and Germany issued arrest warrants for Riad Salameh, governor of the Bank of Lebanon, after he refused to appear in court in Paris on May 16.

Who is Salameh? Riad Salameh has been governor of the Bank of Lebanon since 1993. He is wanted for charges including corruption, forgery and money laundering, and he is accused of embezzling $330 million. Critics claim his borrowing money to pay other creditors has turned Lebanon into “the world’s largest Ponzi scheme” and led to its economic crisis.

Beyond governments: On France’s behalf, Interpol issued a red notice against Salameh. Red notices are nonbinding requests for cross-border law enforcement, not usually used against sitting politicians. A Lebanese judge put a travel ban on Salameh following Interpol’s announcement. His Lebanese and French passports were also confiscated.

On May 23, Reuters reported that the Financial Action Task Force may “graylist” Lebanon, putting the nation in the company of many places notorious for corruption, including Haiti, South Africa and the Cayman Islands.

The lists inform investors which countries are safe to do business with. If Lebanon ends up on the graylist, it could exasperate an already dire situation.

Woe, woe, woe: Since 2019, the Lebanese pound has lost over 98 percent of its value. Most Lebanese are now impoverished. The World Bank in 2021 said Lebanon’s economy is among the “most severe crises episodes globally since the mid-19th century.” The justice system continues to drag its feet in its investigation of the 2020 Beirut port explosion that killed over 200 and injured thousands. For seven months, the presidency has been vacant, with Parliament unable to agree on a candidate. And war between Israel and Lebanese terror group Hezbollah remains a real possibility.

It looks like the country once named the “jewel of the Middle East” is about to plunge into total chaos.

Crisis of biblical proportions? Psalm 83 speaks of various ancient peoples uniting so “that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.” An alliance with these members—and this purpose—has never before formed. This is a prophecy of the future. But the prophecy is meaningless unless one knows these peoples’ modern identities. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry explains in his free booklet The King of the South how Lebanon is included in this prophesied alliance.

Lebanon is currently dominated by Hezbollah, which is allied with Iran. Iran and its allies are prophesied to fight against Germany in the near future. (See here for more information.) For Psalm 83 to be fulfilled, Lebanon will have to switch sides. Hezbollah isn’t going to give up power without a fight. But Lebanese society is falling apart at every angle. The demand for the arrest of the sitting central bank head shows the situation’s gravity. And it also shows Europe’s interest in having more say in Lebanon’s affairs.

To learn more, see our October 2020 issue, “The Blast That Changed Lebanon.”