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Lebanon’s billionaire prime minister denies allegations of money laundering in France

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PARIS, April 4: Lebanon’s billionaire caretaker prime minister has denied all allegations of money laundering after a complaint was filed in France by two anti-corruption groups this week.

The complaint against Najib Mikati was formally filed on Tuesday to France’s National Financial Prosecutor’s office by French anti-corruption non-governmental organization Sherpa and the Collective of Victims of Fraudulent and Criminal Practices.

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In a statement, Sherpa said the objective is to “shed light on the conditions under which Lebanese political figures like Najib Mikati accumulated considerable wealth and on the role of financial intermediaries who facilitated these acquisitions.”

No detail was immediately available about the sums of money involved.

The group said it drew the attention of French prosecutors to the conditions under which Mikati “has accumulated significant assets in France. The complaint also questions the origin of the funds that transited through the French banking system.”

Mikati said he and members of his family have always acted in accordance with the law, in a statement published Wednesday by Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency. The statement defended the family’s “integrity” and said its business is characterized by “complete transparency.”

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French prosecutors have yet to decide whether to launch an investigation.

One of the richest men in Lebanon, Mikati, 68, has served as prime minister since 2021.

He founded the telecommunications company Investcom with his brother Taha in the 1980s and sold it in 2006 to South Africa’s MTN Group for $5.5 billion. (AP)

 

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