Discussing The Issue of Forensic Audit of BDL Accounts

Discussing The Issue of Forensic Audit of BDL Accounts

Caretaker Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, chaired a meeting devoted to discussing the issue of forensic audit of BDL accounts. The meeting was attended by Ministers Zeina Akar, Ghazi Wazni and Marie Claude Najm, BDL Governor, Riad Salameh, former minister Naji Boustani, head of the Forensic Audit team of Alvarez & Marsal company, Mr. James Daniel, Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, Judge Mahmoud Makie, and PM’s Office Head, Judge Khaled Akkari.

After the meeting, Minister Najm said, “During the meeting, we asked “Alvarez & Marsal ”, which is the company in charge of  conducting the forensic audit of BDL accounts, about the nature of its operations and the documents required in order to be able to carry out this audit. Some issues relate to the forensic audit per se; others to governance; some have to do with logistics, and others are related to accounting principles. The forensic audit company made it clear that the BDL has provided it with most of the answers related to the fourth part; however, the BDL did not answer the majority of questions related to the three other parts, and it refused to provide the company with the relevant required documents and data. We asked BDL Governor about the refusal to submit relevant documentation; he replied that the problem does not lie in the contract but in the banking secrecy law, and therefore it must be amended because BDL is obligated to abide by it.

We have reiterated the fact that the Council of Ministers had unanimously taken the decision to subject BDL accounts to a financial and forensic audit, which will be conducted in two phases. The Cabinet had also decided to appoint “Alvarez & Marsal” company to conduct the said audit; and this is a binding decision. Thus, BDL must deliver all required documentation within the time limit specified in the contract, for the Central Bank mandate is not outside the scope of the Lebanese state, and its Governor is an employee appointed by the Council of Ministers, and he must abide by the Council’s decisions. The forensic audit is a necessity, for there is a large gap in the BDL accounts. We want to know where the Lebanese people’s deposits have gone.

We have also reiterated our position that there is no bank secrecy in the forensic audit, and that banking secrecy does not apply to the Lebanese state’s accounts, nor to BDL accounts. In case required data have to do with transactions leading to specific individuals, encoding shall be used to avoid lifting banking secrecy. Thus, BDL Governor must implement the government's decision, and if he refuses to do so, he must submit an official justification to the government and to the public opinion stating the corresponding reasons”.

Answering a question about an agreement being concluded between the Ministry of Finance and the auditing firm, over a three months deadline for the BDL to deliver required documents to the firm, Najm said: “We are committed to the Council of Ministers’ decision, and there has been no extension of the contract. Several ideas are being discussed. There is a contract and a Cabinet decision that cannot be easily changed".


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