Najib Mikati, a former Lebanese prime minister, accused of illicit gains
Beirut — A prosecutor in Lebanon accused a billionaire legislator and his relatives, alongside the nation’s biggest bank, of illicit enrichment, the state-run National News Agency reported, in what is the first such case in a country where protesters have raged for days against rampant corruption.
One-time prime minister of Lebanon Najib Mikati, his brother Taha and son Maher, as well as Bank Audi, allegedly benefited from government-subsidised housing loans, the news service said. The illicit enrichment law in Lebanon criminalises gains made through bribes or the use of public office.
Mikati, whose fortune is estimated at $2.5bn by Forbes magazine, and his billionaire brother cofounded the Beirut-based firm M1 Group, which has investments in telecommunications companies in SA, and other holdings in Monaco, London and New York.
Tens of thousands of Lebanese have flooded the streets nationwide in the past week, taking aim at the political elites they blame for entrenched corruption and worsening living conditions. The government has presented an emergency plan of reforms in a bid to appease the public.
Bank Audi said it complied with the law and denied playing a role in any scheme to reap illicit gains, according to a statement. There was no immediate comment from Mikati’s office.