Lebanon’s president pledges to revive forensic audit of central bank

Lebanon’s president pledges to revive forensic audit of central bank
President Michel Aoun delivers a televised address on the eve of the country's 77th independence day, at the presidential palace in Baabda. (AFP)
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Updated 21 November 2020

Lebanon’s president pledges to revive forensic audit of central bank

Lebanon’s president pledges to revive forensic audit of central bank
  • Among Lebanon’s multiple crises are growing poverty, a political vacuum and the coronavirus
  • “If we want statehood, then we must fight corruption ... and this begins by imposing the forensic financial audit,” Aoun said

BEIRUT: Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Saturday that a forensic audit of the central bank was vital to combat corruption, and that he would get it back on track after the consultancy contracted to carry it out withdrew.
Aoun said “interest-driven roadblocks” had derailed the audit, which is a key condition for foreign donors to help Lebanon out of a deep financial crisis that has posed the biggest threat to its stability since its 1975-1990 civil war.
Among Lebanon’s multiple crises are growing poverty, a political vacuum, coronavirus and the fallout from a massive explosion at Beirut port in August that killed 200 people.
“Our reality today is not promising,” the president said in a televised speech to mark Independence Day, adding that Lebanon was a prisoner of corruption, political scheming and external dictations.
“If we want statehood, then we must fight corruption ... and this begins by imposing the forensic financial audit,” he said, adding he would not “back off” on the issue.
The caretaker finance minister announced on Friday that the restructuring consultancy Alvarez & Marsal had pulled out of the audit because the central bank had not provided all the information required to carry out the task, citing bank secrecy.
Lebanon has not yet formed a new government since the last one was brought down by the blast. Saad Al-Hariri, the Sunni prime minister-designate under a sectarian power-sharing agreement, is struggling to form a cabinet amid turf wars.


Iran plans to install more advanced atomic centrifuges underground: IAEA

The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency said on December 2, 2020 Iran had begun operating advanced centrifuges at an underground section of its primary nuclear enrichment facility at Natanz. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 50 min 37 sec ago

Iran plans to install more advanced atomic centrifuges underground: IAEA

The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency said on December 2, 2020 Iran had begun operating advanced centrifuges at an underground section of its primary nuclear enrichment facility at Natanz. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Iran’s nuclear deal with major powers says Tehran can only use first-generation IR-1 centrifuges, which are less efficient

VIENNA: Iran has told the UN nuclear watchdog it plans to install three more cascades, or clusters, of advanced IR-2m centrifuges at its underground uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, the agency told member states on Friday in a report obtained by Reuters.

“Iran informed the Agency that the operator of the Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) at Natanz ‘intends to start installation of three cascades of IR-2m centrifuge machines’ at FEP,” the agency wrote, adding that the three cascades were in addition to one of IR-2m machines already used for enrichment there.

Iran’s nuclear deal with major powers says Tehran can only use first-generation IR-1 centrifuges, which are less efficient, at the underground plant and that those are the only machines Iran can accumulate enriched uranium with.