Lebanon to sign contract for central bank forensic audit in days

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BEIRUT – Lebanon’s outgoing finance minister Ghazi Wazni said on Tuesday a contract for a forensic audit of the central bank would be signed in a few days by the new government with Alvarez & Marsal (A&M), a step aimed at helping the country out of its crisis.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati put together a new cabinet on Friday alongside President Michel Aoun, naming former central bank official Youssef Khalil as finance minister.

Forming a new government ends a year of political deadlock during which Lebanon has sunk deeper into an economic meltdown that has driven three quarters of the population into poverty and caused the currency to lose more than 90% of its value.

The plan for an audit, a key requirement for Lebanon to secure vital foreign aid, hit a roadblock in November when restructuring consultancy A&M withdrew, saying it had not received information it needed from the central bank.

The finance ministry said in April the central bank had agreed to hand over documents required by A&M.

Wazni made his comments to the media after an event to mark the handover of his duties to Khalil.

Khalil, a former central bank official who is close to central bank Governor Riad Salameh, said on Tuesday failure in his new role was not an option, saying it would only exacerbate Lebanon’s problems.

Reuters

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