Lebanon parliament clears way for forensic audit of central bank

Lebanon parliament clears way for forensic audit of central bank
A woman wearing a protective mask walks past Central Bank building as Lebanon extends a shutdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Beirut, Lebanon, May 5, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 21 December 2020

Lebanon parliament clears way for forensic audit of central bank

Lebanon parliament clears way for forensic audit of central bank
  • The IMF and France are among creditors demanding the audit as part of urgent reforms to unlock financial support

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s parliament Monday approved a bill that suspends banking secrecy laws for one year to allow for a forensic audit of the central bank, a key demand of international donors, state media said.
“Parliament approved a draft law... that suspends banking secrecy for one year,” the official National News Agency reported.
The vote came in inaccordance with a November decision by parliament to clear hurdles obstructing a forensic audit of the central bank and public institutions, the NNA added.
The International Monetary Fund and France are among creditors demanding the audit as part of urgent reforms to unlock financial support, as the country faces a grinding economic crisis.
But the central bank has claimed that provisions including Lebanon’s Banking Secrecy Law prevent it from releasing some of the necessary information.
“After approving a law that lifts banking secrecy... we can begin a forensic audit,” said Hasan Fadlallah, a lawmaker affiliated with the powerful Shiite Hezbollah movement.
But lawyer and activist Nizar Saghieh argued that Monday’s decision would only be “window dressing” in the absence of a clear intention from government to carry out the audit.
“Implementation is a whole sperate matter,” he told AFP.
New York-based Alvarez and Marsal, a consultancy firm formerly tasked with the audit, scrapped its agreement with the government in November because the central bank had failed to hand over required data.
The move sparked widespread criticism of Lebanon’s authorities.
The country, which defaulted on its debt this year, is experiencing its worst economic crisis in decades and is still reeling from a devastating explosion at Beirut’s port that gutted entire neighborhoods of the capital on August 4.
The dire economic straits and the explosion have both been widely blamed on government corruption and incompetence.


Riyadh investment forum sends ‘message of optimism’ with global linkup

FII is described as an international platform for debate between global leaders, investors and innovators. In 2019, 24 investment deals worth $20 billion were announced at the event. (AFP/File Photo)
FII is described as an international platform for debate between global leaders, investors and innovators. In 2019, 24 investment deals worth $20 billion were announced at the event. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 26 January 2021

Riyadh investment forum sends ‘message of optimism’ with global linkup

FII is described as an international platform for debate between global leaders, investors and innovators. In 2019, 24 investment deals worth $20 billion were announced at the event. (AFP/File Photo)
  • FII embraces unique high-tech format in bid to reinvent global economy

DUBAI: Olympic medalists, political leaders, Nobel laureates and global CEOs are among speakers due to take part in the fourth edition of the Future Investment Initiative (FII), a two-day event that will embrace a hybrid format for the first time when it starts on Wednesday.

Jamaican eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt is one of the star speakers among the 150 names set to take part in the event, organized under the theme “The Neo-Renaissance.”

Travel restrictions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic mean some speakers will attend in person in Riyadh, while many others will participate virtually from hubs in New York, Paris, Beijing and Mumbai.

Other high-profile speakers announced in recent days include Sen. Matteo Renzi, former prime minister of Italy; Kevin Rudd, former Australian prime minister; Alberto Fernandez, president of Argentina; and Bruno Le Maire, French finance and economy minister.

READ MORE: FII confirms over 140 global speakers for 2021 event

FII is described as an international platform for debate between global leaders, investors and innovators. In 2019, 24 investment deals worth $20 billion were announced at the event, as the Saudi Arabian economy opened up to foreign investment.

Richard Attias, CEO of organizing body the FII Institute, told Arab News that pandemic restrictions mean the 2021 event will be “totally different” from the first editions.

“But we still need to carry a message of optimism, a message that the global economy should not stop and cannot stop. This is why we are hosting this conversation in a unique format.

“The conversation will be about the rebirth of the global economy. In fact, this rebirth will be the neo-renaissance of the global economy. I hope this renaissance will positively affect all sectors. Under the leadership of the FII Institute, speakers and participants will discuss how the investment world, the sports industry, the sustainability industry — how all these industries will be reinvented.”

Attias said that the two-day event will embrace “first time ever” conference technology, “which is bringing together all participants in a virtual world.”