In a televised speech marking the 77th anniversary of Lebanon’s independence, President Aoun added that “interest barricades” were put in place to obstruct the scrutiny process, which he described as a basic requirement of foreign donors and the International Monetary Fund to help Lebanon get out of the financial collapse.
Aoun described the withdrawal of an international auditing firm, Alvarez & Marsal, as a “setback to the logic of establishing the state, as criminal audit is the gateway to every reform.”
On the anniversary of his country’s independence, the Lebanese President warned that Lebanon had become “prisoner of a system of political, financial and administrative corruption covered with various kinds of shields,” and “a prisoner of dictates, external disputes and internal hostilities that make independence, sovereignty and democracy just empty words.”
The reason for the withdrawal
The company justified the suspension of its work the day before yesterday, Friday, by not having obtained the required information and documents, and its lack of certainty of reaching that information, despite its obtaining at the beginning of this month to extend its work for 3 months to receive the required documents.
President Aoun, his current and some of his allies accuse the governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon (Central Bank) Riad Salameh of delaying the presentation of the required documents to the audit company, in order to prevent the exposure of violations committed by Salameh.
However, the governor of the Banque du Liban stresses that banking secrecy laws prevent him from submitting the accounts requested by the auditing firm, except in the presence of an exceptional law issued by Parliament.
The failure of the criminal audit of the Central Bank’s accounts would delay the implementation of the reforms demanded by international donors, in exchange for providing financial support to the Lebanese government to overcome the economic crisis in the country.
Lebanon has been suffering for months, an economic crisis that is the worst since the end of the civil war, in addition to severe political polarization, in a scene in which the interests of regional and Western countries are clashing, and protests emerge from time to time demanding accountability for the corrupt and the ruling class.
Caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab said last Friday that corruption “won a new round”, in response to the international audit firm’s announcement of its withdrawal from auditing the Bank of Lebanon’s accounts.
On November 3, Diab demanded the Central Bank to hand over all documents to the auditing company, considering that “any attempt to obstruct the audit is classified as a partnership in responsibility for causing the suffering of the Lebanese people on the financial, economic and living levels.”
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