U.S. embassy in Lebanon denies alleged sanctions on central bank governor

The U.S. embassy in Lebanon on Friday denied media reports about Washington’s intention to impose sanctions on Lebanese Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh, LBCI local TV channel reported.

“We have seen reports about possible sanctions on Riad Salameh. They are untrue,” U.S. Embassy spokesperson Casey Bonfield said in a brief statement.

Bloomberg News reported a day earlier that the United States was considering sanctions against Salameh as part of an investigation into alleged embezzlement of public funds.

The Central Bank of Lebanon released on Friday a statement, saying the governor will file a series of lawsuits inside and outside Lebanon against Bloomberg News and “all those who stand behind them over crimes of fabricating news, insulting and attempting to discredit the governor of the central bank.”

Earlier this year, Salameh was accused of having transferred millions of U.S. dollars abroad along with his brother and an assistant. Lebanese Justice Minister Marie-Claude Najm received a request from Swiss judicial authorities to cooperate on an inquiry into money transfers by Salameh.

The governor rejected these accusations.

Lebanon’s central bank has come under heavy criticism due to a shortage in U.S. dollars given the economic slowdown and the drop in cash injections from Lebanese abroad, reducing the central bank’s foreign currency reserves.