Alvarez and Marsal auditing firm is still waiting for the remaining answers from the Central Bank concerning data on all the accounts of BDL to resume its forensic auditing, a source familiar with the matter said Thursday.
“The company received only 42 percent of the information it requested from BDL but has yet to receive the remaining 58 percent of the information and answers to complete its forensic auditing. Up to this date, the Finance Ministry has not received the remaining answers from BDL so we can pass them to Alvarez,” the source told The Daily Star.
He added that the company insists on obtaining all the information it requested.
The source argued that the Central Bank can no longer give an excuse of banking secrecy because it has been suspended by the Parliament for one year.
But the Central Bank assured Thursday that it is willing to fully cooperate with Alvarez to disclose the accounts at its disposal.
“The Central Council of the Banque du Liban affirmed, in its two sessions held on Feb. 2, 2021 and March 24, 2021, that the Banque du Liban adhered to the full provisions of Law No. 200 dated Dec. 29, 2020 and in its cooperation with Alvarez and Marsal company, and to establish accounts related to all state accounts and accounts of banks at the disposal of the Finance Minister,” BDL statement said.
The statement said it is ready to secure all the facilities that would secure the company concerned to start the audit process.
“The finance minister was informed of the contents of the two aforementioned decisions on Feb. 15, 2021 and March 29, 2021, noting that, on Oct. 13, 2020, all accounts belonging to the Banque du Liban were handed over to the finance minister by the government commissioner at the Banque du Liban,” the statement said.
“In the context of the positive development that is being followed, a virtual meeting will be held on June 4, 2021 between Alvarez and Marsal and the Banque du Liban and the Finance Ministry to follow up on this issue,” the statement said.
On March 15, the Central Bank’s legal department has finished answering all of Alvarez & Marsal’s questions and BDL’s central board will review these answers before sending them back to the Finance Ministry, a source said.
“All of the four inquiries have been answered and now it is up to BDL’s central council to review these answers before sending them to the Finance Ministry,” a source told The Daily Star.
Basically, BDL’s Central Board holds a meeting every Wednesday but it is not clear if it can secure quorum to review the answers by the legal department.
Lebanon’s Parliament agreed on Dec. 21, 2020, to lift the banking secrecy on BDL’s accounts for one year to give the forensic auditing team ample time to complete its work.
With more than three months since Parliament’s approval for lifting the banking secrecy, some wonder if Alvarez will be able to complete the forensic auditing in seven months or less if BDL responded positively to the company’s questions.
On March 3, the Finance Ministry asked the Central Bank to answer all the four questions posted by Alvarez & Marsal concerning the forensic auditing, adding that the auditing firm was not satisfied with the vague response by BDL.
“Alvarez & Marsal told the Finance Ministry that it will not sign the contract with the government to conduct a forensic auditing of all BDL’s accounts until the latter specifically answers each of the four questions that were forwarded to the ministry,” the source told The Daily Star.