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Lebanese actress questioned, detained in central bank graft probe

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanese actress Stephanie Saliba was detained on Friday after being questioned by investigators over a corruption case related to Lebanon's central bank governor, a judicial source told Reuters.

Judge Ghada Aoun told Reuters on Thursday she had ordered security forces last week to bring Saliba, 35, in for interrogation over suspicions that governor Riad Salameh had bought her luxury property using ill-gotten gains.

Salameh has denied any wrongdoing and Saliba has not yet been charged with any crime. She has not responded to attempts by Reuters to reach her by phone or social media platforms.

Saliba landed at Beirut's international airport on Thursday and was not detained there after Lebanon's top financial prosecutor Ali Ibrahim ordered that she be allowed to return to the country freely.

Ibrahim then appointed prosecutor Iman Abdallah to Saliba's case, and she was brought in for questioning on Friday and detained after her interrogation, the judicial source said.

Earlier this week, French prosecutors said they had put a Ukrainian woman linked to Salameh under formal investigation as part of a cross-border inquiry into alleged fraud to the detriment of the Lebanese state.

Anna Kosakova, with whom Salameh has a daughter according to a birth certificate seen by Reuters, is suspected of aggravated money laundering, according to a spokesperson for Paris financial prosecutors.

A lawyer for Kosakova said he and his client would "react very soon" to the French prosecutors' moves.

Salameh has consistently denied allegations of corruption during his 29-year tenure at the central bank and says the charges against him are part of a political campaign to scapegoat him for Lebanon's financial crisis.

The French investigation is part of a coordinated effort by prosecutors in Lebanon, Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein to get to the bottom of allegations that Salameh used his position to embezzle hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds.

(Reporting by Timour Azhari, writing by Maya Gebeily, editing by Mark Heinrich)