Lebanon: Mikati faces accusations of money laundering in France

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati has defended allegations accusing him of money laundering, according to Arab News and agencies on April 4th.

On April 3rd, PM Mikati responded to the allegations filed in France by asserting his “integrity” and “transparent” assets.

The allegations were filed by two associations with France’s financial prosecutor’s office: The Collective Association of Victims of Fraudulent and Criminal Practices in Lebanon, and Sherpa – a French anti-financial crime association.

The associations have accused Mikati and his brother, Taha, of illegally accumulating assets in France and other countries, including engaging in money laundering, concealment, and criminal conspiracy.

The alleged “assets”, according to the two plaintiffs, include properties in Monaco and Saint Jean-Cap-Ferrat. Additionally, Mikati reportedly purchased a 79-meter yacht for 100 million dollars and two Falcon jets. These jets, used for transporting high-ranking executives, are valued at an approximate 95 million dollars.

“We strongly reaffirm that the source of our family wealth is entirely transparent, legitimate, and in full compliance with the law,” Mikati said in a statement sent to media groups.

Forbes magazine reported in 2023 that the siblings’ combined wealth amounts to $2.8 billion – making them among Lebanon’s wealthiest individuals.

Despite the allegations leveled against Mikati, which he and his family have deemed as “unfounded and politically motivated”, he maintains that no affiliated family member or business of his “has been found guilty by any court, whether in Lebanon or anywhere else in the world.”

These personal accusations also come against a wider backdrop of a nation in turmoil: Lebanon is grappling with the most severe economic crisis since 1850.

The state faces over $70 billion in financial losses and an insolvent banking sector. Approximately 80% of the population is in poverty, with most Lebanese citizens losing their life savings.

The Lebanese economy has also been compared to a Ponzi scheme – relying on new deposits to pay high interests – that culminated in its collapse in 2019. Yet, despite its urgency, a third attempt at a recovery plan for Lebanon has fallen by the wayside over criticisms from the banking sector and politicians.

READ: Lebanon’s economic recovery plan falls into the abyss

The ongoing border conflict between Israel and Hezbollah has further exacerbated Lebanon’s tentative situation – with Israeli airstrikes causing a mass displacement of over 100,000 people. Life has particularly been impacted in southern Lebanon, prompting Mikati to recently pledge compensation for affected residents.


Arab News / Agencies

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