Lebanon’s central financial institution vows to cooperate with audit as pound dips

Lebanon is within the throes of the deepest financial disaster since its 1975-1990 civil conflict.

Lebanon’s central financial institution stated on Thursday that it could fulfil all knowledge requests from the consultancy Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) for a forensic audit of its accounts amid studies that the agency was set to drag out as a result of a scarcity of cooperation.

The audit is seen as a key situation for an International Monetary fund help programme and different overseas support to stem Lebanon’s deepest financial disaster since its 1975-1990 civil conflict.

Little progress has been made to deal with the disaster because the pound started to decouple from its 23-year-old peg to the US greenback in 2019.

Last July, it dipped to 24,000 to the greenback, and on Thursday it traded at greater than 24,200.

The central financial institution and finance ministry held a digital assembly with A&M on Thursday and underlined their “full cooperation” with finishing the audit, a financial institution assertion stated.

Governor Riad Salameh stated the Banque du Liban would honour all requests for info made earlier than December 29, when a banking secrecy legislation suspended by parliament final yr goes again into impact.

The central financial institution “is recommending that the forensic audit starts now”, Salameh advised 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.”

A&M stop an identical audit a yr in the past over a scarcity of cooperation. An official supply advised Reuters on Wednesday that A&M had knowledgeable the presidency it could stop once more amid delays in offering knowledge.

An A&M spokesperson didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s authorities, shaped in September after a yr of tortuous negotiations amongst Lebanon’s many alternative political events, has struggled to hold out its enterprise.

It has not met for greater than 40 days, hampered by a push by the Iranian-backed armed Hezbollah motion and its allies to take away the decide probing the calamitous Beirut port blast in August 2020 that introduced down the earlier authorities.

Salameh advised Reuters in an interview on Tuesday that the federal government had not but agreed concerning the monetary figures it could current to the IMF, a fundamental requirement to start negotiations.