‘The Lebanon Heist’ Podcast From Kerning Cultures Will Explore How Millions of Lebanese Citizens Were Robbed of Life Savings (EXCLUSIVE)

Dubai-based podcast company Kerning Cultures Network is producing “The Lebanon Heist,” an original investigative probe into the root causes of Lebanon’s devastating financial crisis.

Launching in October, the six-part podcast will be produced in English and Arabic, delving into the crash that led to millions of Lebanese citizens being robbed of their life savings, and exploring the role of Riad Salamah, the country’s current central bank governor, who is considered to be at heart of the collapse. He is accused of having embezzled and laundered hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds.

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Salameh, who denies wrongdoing, is being investigated in Lebanon and several European countries for allegedly siphoning off more than $300 million from the central bank with his brother throughout more than a decade.

The “Lebanon Heist” podcast will be hosted by award-winning Lebanese journalist and author Dalal Mawad — formerly with the Associated Press, now with CNN — and Beirut-based reporter Finbar Anderson.

Using live interviews, original reporting and archival materials, the podcast aims to reconstruct the story of the crash from the perspective of Lebanese citizens who lost everything as the political elite systematically ransacked the country’s resources in what has been defined as a state-sanctioned Ponzi scheme by the World Bank.

“[It] is a personal story that has affected me and those that I love,” said Mawad in a statement. “My whole life changed after 2019. My husband and I lost everything we had saved and hoped to build in Lebanon.”

The podcast will follow the active court cases against Lebanon’s central bank governor. Salameh is accused of money laundering, embezzlement, forgery, illicit enrichment and tax law violations in two separate cases in Lebanon but has not yet been formally charged within the investigating European countries.

“Lebanon might be small in size, but the reach and impact of this crime is global,” said Kerning Cultures editor Dana Ballout. “This series will serve as a canary in a coal mine for an international and regional audience who might, like we once did as Lebanese, think their money is safe,” she added, noting that “The fact is, no matter where you call home, your money is never really safe.”

Besides Ballout, the Kerning Cultures Network production team includes Alex Atack, Ahmed Feteha, Heba Afify, Alma Intabli and Mohamad Khreizat.

“The Lebanon Heist” will be the first true crime investigative podcast produced by Kering Cultures, which is a female-led and venture-funded podcast company founded in 2015 with the stated goal of forging a new kind of storytelling from the Arab world. 

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