Lebanon is in the grip of the deepest economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.
Lebanon’s central bank said on Thursday it would fulfill all data requests from consultancy Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) for a forensic audit of its accounts, amid reports that the firm was set to pull out due to a lack of cooperation. .
The audit is seen as an important prerequisite for the International Monetary Fund aid program and other foreign aid to avert Lebanon’s deepest economic crisis since the 1975–1990 civil war.
Little progress has been made to address the crisis as the pound began to depreciate from its 23-year peg to the US dollar in 2019.
Last July, it declined to 24,000 against the dollar, and on Thursday it was trading above 24,200.
A statement from the bank said the central bank and the finance ministry held a virtual meeting with A&M on Thursday and underlined their “full cooperation” in carrying out the audit.
Governor Riyadh Salameh said Banque du Liban would honor all requests for information made before December 29, when a banking secrecy law suspended by parliament last year went into effect.
Salameh told Reuters that the central bank “is recommending that forensic audits begin now.”
“It is for the finance ministry and (A&M) to decide whether the audit requires more information… [The central bank] I’ll follow.”
A&M had dropped a similar audit a year ago due to lack of cooperation. An official source told Reuters on Wednesday that A&M had informed the presidency that it would step down again amid delays in providing data.
An A&M spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government, formed in September after a year of tortuous talks between several different political parties in Lebanon, has struggled to carry on with its business.
It hasn’t met for more than 40 days after the Iranian-backed armed Hezbollah movement and its allies to remove the judge investigating the catastrophic Beirut port explosion in August 2020 and its allies toppled the previous government.
Salameh told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday that the government had not yet agreed about the financial data to be presented to the IMF, a basic requirement for starting talks.