Lebanon’s Central Agrees to Cooperate with Audit

The Central Bank of Lebanon has said it would fulfill all data requests from the consultancy Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) for a forensic audit of its accounts.

The announcement was made on Thursday following reports that the A&M was set to pull out due to a lack of cooperation.

The central bank and finance ministry held a virtual meeting with A&M on Thursday and underlined their “full cooperation” with completing the audit, a bank statement said.

Governor Riad Salameh said the Banque du Liban would honor all requests for information made before December 29, when a banking secrecy law suspended by parliament last year goes back into effect.

The central bank “is recommending that the forensic audit starts now”, Salameh told Reuters.

“It is up to the ministry of finance and (A&M) to decide if the audit requires more information … [The central bank] will comply.”

This comes after Lebanon’s president told central bank governor Riad Salameh on Wednesday to provide data for a forensic audit of the bank, saying the restructuring consultancy (A&M) had said it did not have the information it needed a month after starting.

Salameh told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday that the government had not yet agreed about the financial figures it would present to the IMF, a basic requirement to begin negotiations.

The audit is seen as a key condition for an IMF support program and other foreign aid to stem Lebanon’s deepest economic crisis since its 1975-1990 civil war.

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