President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, asserted the need of the Government to conduct a financial forensic audit of Central Bank accounts, stressing the importance of this step in the context of necessary reforms to tackle financial and economic conditions in the country.
Positions of President Aoun came while chairing a meeting which included Finance Minister, Ghazi Wazny, former Minister Salim Jreisatti, Director General of the Presidency, Dr. Antoine Choucair, and head of the Forensic Audit team of Alvarez and Marsal company, Mr. James Daniel, today at the Presidential Palace.
It was decided to extend the deadline required for the delivery of necessary documents for an additional three-month period, provided that some documents which have not yet been delivered would be delivered during this specified period of time. Moreover, the circumstances which accompanied the implementation of the decision in the audit process were also discussed.
Statement Minister Wazny:
“The President of the Republic chaired a meeting, today at Baabda Palace, attended by Finance Minister, Ghazi Wazny, Central Bank Governor, Riad Salameh, former Minister, Salim Jreisatti, Director General of the Presidency, Dr. Antoine Choucair, and head of the Forensic Audit team (Marsal and Alvarez Company), Mr. James Daniel.
The meeting was devoted to tackle the circumstances which prevented the company from undertaking the forensic-financial audit of BDL accounts.
It was agreed to take the necessary measures to extend the required deadline for the company to deliver all the data, for 3 additional months, after the deadline was stated on 3-11-2020 as per contract, provided that during the above period some documents that prevented their receipt under applicable laws and regulations, are delivered.
During the meeting, President Aoun asserted the importance and necessity of the Government’s commitment to conducting the forensic audit for the interest of public interest.
Moreover, Minister Wazny confirmed that the audit is a perfect reform step”.
Questions and Answers:
Afterwards, a discussion took place between the Finance Minister and journalists, through which he stated that “ According to the signed contract, the deadline of the delivery of data to “Alvarez and Marsal” company was supposed to expire on the 3rd of November, 2020, in order for the company to carry out its audit mission, as long as the company considers that the documents which have been collected are insufficient and doesn’t allow it to perform its entrusted tasks, this meeting was held with His Excellency which led to an extension of the deadline for three additional months, during which the Lebanese Government tries to provide the documents. This leads to allowing the company to carry out the tasks stipulated in the contract regarding forensic audit”.
When asked about how to overcome the issue of banking secrecy, Wazny replied: “Regarding banking secrecy, it is possible to rely on several issues, such as the opinion of the Legislation and Consultation Commission which the Finance Ministry has applied to in order to clarify, define and explain this issue, which was helpful. The BDL showed more and more willingness to deal with this issue, and it has set up a team if governance to facilitate matters and secure documents for the company. The atmosphere was positive, and the 3 month period is sufficient to secure the necessary documents for audit, especially since His Excellency, the President, considers this issue as preliminary, necessary and very important, in a sense that it is important for the country’s future, in addition to its importance regarding the reform steps which must be adopted in the next stage”.
Finally, the Finance Minister pointed out that “There are laws which take into account the issue of giving documents, regarding banking secrecy and Article 151 of the Monetary and Credit Law. From here, it is normal for the BDL to adhere to the laws and implement these laws. The BDL Governor has shown willingness to facilitate the task and give the required documents as much as possible, in addition to setting up a working team to meet all demands. These are all positive steps”.
Compensation for Former Contractors with UNDP:
The President also headed a meeting which included, Finance Minister, Ghazi Wazny, former Minister, Salim Jreisatti, and Presidency Director-General, Dr. Antoine Choucair, devoted to discuss compensation procedure for former contractors with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
The Finance Minister indicated that it was agreed on all procedures which will secure the rights of contracting parties as usual, in light of the exceptional approval which was granted by the President and Prime Minister, on September 14, 2020, based on the principle of ensuring the continuity of the public facility in a number of ministries and public institutions.
Source: National News Agency