The Finance Ministry Wednesday paid $150,000 to Alvarez & Marsal Company to conduct full forensic auditing of all the Central Bank’s accounts, a government source said.
The source said that Caretaker Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni is expected to sign the contract with the company in a few days.
The source added that Alvarez has already received all the requested data and documents from BDL, noting that the firm will send a team to the Finance Ministry to work closely with BDL officials and staff.
The company, which promised to file the first preliminary report in 12 weeks after signing the contract, has the full power to question any staff from BDL.
Alvarez had previously suspended all auditing of BDL’s accounts due to the latter's refusal to fully cooperate with the company.
But the Lebanese Parliament passed a law last year lifting banking secrecy on BDL’s accounts for one year in order to enable the company to conduct its forensic auditing without any excuses or hindrances.
The source stressed that the company still has six more months to accomplish its work, adding that this is ample time.
Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh has repeatedly said that he and his staff will fully cooperate with Alvarez and assured that he has nothing to hide. Under the terms of the contract, BDL is obliged to fully cooperate with Alvarez.
President Michel Aoun is spearheading the campaign to conduct forensic auditing of all of BDL’s accounts.
A total forensic auditing of BDL and all the ministries and public departments in Lebanon is also one of the main conditions of the International Monetary Fund.
A country or a company usually seeks the help of a forensic auditing firm in cases of suspected financial embezzlement, misappropriation of funds or corruption in an entity.
This will be the first time in Lebanon’s history that the government has requested the assistance of an international firm to conduct a forensic audit of BDL.