Lebanon prime minister cleared after Monaco corruption probe
Lebanon prime minister cleared after Monaco corruption probe

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Monaco has concluded an investigation into allegations of illicit enrichment and money laundering by Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister and his family, clearing them of wrongdoing.

Najib Mikati, the billionaire and one of the richest men in Lebanon, allegedly raped him, his brother Taha Mikati three years ago, according to Monaco’s deputy attorney general, Morgan Raymond. The investigation by Taha Mikati and her son Maher was closed for insufficient evidence. A letter seen by the Financial Times.

In a statement to the FT, Mikati’s office said: “This development confirms that the false allegations and the ensuing speculation are baseless.” Raymond told the FT corroborated the details of the letter.

Since Lebanon’s devastating financial meltdown in 2019, there has been growing scrutiny of corruption allegations at home and abroad.

Many blame the political system for setting the country on a path of destruction.Lebanon routinely ranks at the bottom of Transparency International’s corruption index – currently it is #150 out of 180 countries ranking.

Much of the scrutiny has focused on former central bank governor Riad Salameh, who ran the Bank of Lebanon for 30 years before retiring last month. Authorities in at least nine countries are investigating allegations of financial crimes against Salameh. He denies all allegations of wrongdoing.

Sources close to the European investigation into Salame told the FT that the relationship between Mikati and Salame has been investigated in several countries, including Monaco and Liechtenstein.

Monaco had requested legal assistance from Lebanon in January last year to help investigate money-laundering allegations, according to a letter seen by the Financial Times. Sources close to the investigation said the case was linked to a subsidized loan scheme.

In 2019, a Lebanese judge opened an investigation into the scheme following media reports that public figures and politicians had fraudulently benefited from central bank subsidized loans. Mikati, several relatives and Lebanon’s Audi Bank were investigated before the case was dismissed last year.

A 2022 letter from Liechtenstein to Lebanese authorities seen by the Financial Times showed that an investigating judge in Liechtenstein had previously investigated money transfers between Salameh and companies owned by Taha Mikati.

The transfers, worth about $14 million, were between M1 Group, the Lebanese holding company founded by Najib and Taha Mikati, and SI 2 SA, the Swiss company owned by Salameh that is under investigation on money laundering charges. Agreement reached in 2016. Mikati’s office has denied the existence of any agreement.

Liechtenstein authorities have confirmed that “there are no pending investigations against the Mikati family,” Mikati’s statement said. A source close to Mikati said Mikati’s family did not believe they had been investigated in Liechtenstein. Liechtenstein’s judiciary did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“The Lebanon case was also recently dropped and there are no ongoing investigations, inquiries or prosecutions in any jurisdiction against anyone in the Mikati family,” a statement from Mikati’s office said. inspired by politically motivated defamation”.

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