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Lebanon’s president promises to revive central bank forensic audit

Beirut: Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Saturday that a central bank forensic audit was necessary to combat corruption, and that he would put it back on track after withdrawing from the consultations hired to do the audit.

Aoun said ‘interest-driven roadblocks’ derail the audit, which is a key condition for foreign donors to help Lebanon out of a deep financial crisis that poses the greatest threat to its stability since the 1975-1990 civil war.

Among Lebanon’s multiple crises are rising poverty, a political vacuum, coronavirus and the aftermath of a major explosion in Beirut port in August that killed 200 people.

Prisoner of Corruption

“Our reality today is not promising,” Aoun said in a televised speech in celebration of Independence Day, adding that Lebanon was a prisoner of corruption, political scheme and external dictatorships.

“If we want state capture, we have to fight corruption … and it starts with the imposition of the forensic financial audit,” he said, adding that he would not “withdraw” the issue.

The caretaker finance minister announced on Friday that the restructuring consultant Alvarez & Marsal had withdrawn from the audit because the central bank had not provided all the necessary information to carry out the task, citing bank secrecy.

Power vaccine

Lebanon has not yet formed a new government, as the last one was brought by the explosion. Saad al-Hariri, the designated prime minister of Sunni under a sectarian power-sharing agreement, is struggling to form a cabinet amid turf wars.

France, the United States and other donors have made it clear that there would be no lifeline unless a credible government is formed to implement long-demanded reforms to tackle endemic waste, corruption and mismanagement.

Aoun said unifying criteria should be used to form a government, citing what official sources say was his insistence – along with his influential son-in-law, Gebran Bassil – on the nomination of Christian pastors.

Source: Gulf News

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