|Financial scandals across
Lebanon move toward resolution
From suspicions of smuggled Iraqi
dinars to the continuation of intrigue at Al-Madina, investigations abound
Daily Star staff
State Prosecutor Adnan Addoum was informed on Tuesday
that Iraqi authorities will send him a memo demanding the return of money that
has been confiscated by Lebanese authorities, according to sources.
The sources told The Daily Star, that Addoum received a call from the Iraqi Charge
dAffaires in Lebanon, Tahseen Elwan Eena, telling him that a memo will be sent
through diplomatic channels.
Iraqs Interior Ministry said on Monday that it could not be held responsible for the
decision of Lebanese businessmen to fly to Beirut with billions of Iraqi dinars, which
they had cashed for a procurement contract.
Our responsibility stopped when the money was paid, interim Interior Minister
Nuri Badran said.
He stressed that the Lebanese businessmen agreed to be paid in Iraqi dinars and cashed the
money from the Rafidain Bank in Baghdad. I dont know why they chose a currency
exchange company abroad (to convert the dinars), he added.
Badran said that the 9.5-billion dinar contract was to supply the ministry with necessary
equipment, such as protection and tools for police officers to defuse bombs and strips to
protect windows from being shattered by explosions.
The amount was equivalent to $10 million when the contract was signed earlier this month,
He did not explain, however, why the Interior Ministry had not sent proof of the contract,
as requested by the Lebanese authorities who seized the dinars from the businessmen on
their arrival in Lebanon.
We have paid the money, we are now awaiting the equipment, he said.
But the Lebanese authorities said on Jan. 17 they would not return the money until they
had proof that the money was from a legal payment for a contract.
Four Lebanese men were detained for several days on suspicion of attempting to smuggle the
money as part of a speculation scheme and their passports were confiscated by the Lebanese
Iraqi central bank officials have conceded that large quantities of the new currency,
particularly the easy to carry 25,000 dinar notes, may be being smuggled to neighboring
Smuggling committed by traders hoping to make hefty gains especially when Iraqs
economy improves and its oil exports increase has caused the currencys value to
On the domestic front, Assistant State Prosecutor Rabia Ammash Qaddoura continued
investigations on Tuesday into the forgery of two documents issued by Central Bank
Governor Riad Salameh, which were related to the merger of Al-Madina Bank and the United
Qaddoura interrogated Al-Madinas former executive secretary Rana Qoleilat, held in
custody for investigations into the case, and held another questioning session for
Qoleilat and the current secretaries at the bank, Rana Ayas and Joumana Sharara.
Qoleilat re-iterated her denial of being involved with either documents, stressing that
she was abroad when the documents were issued. She requested not to be treated as a
scapegoat for the bank and relative cases, adding that she was a secretary
with limited authority and that every decision was implemented following a direct order
from the banks chairman of the board of directors, Adnan Abu Ayyash, and his
brother, Ibrahim Abu Ayyash, the banks director.
Mount Lebanon Chief Investigating Magistrate Joseph Qazzi ruled out two requests for the
release of Qoleilat and Youssef Hashi, held in custody for suspicion of breaching
the Money and Credit Law, falsifying SWIFT Operations, providing illusory budgets, and
disposing of the depositors money as they pleased.
The magistrate said the judiciary was not influenced by rumors or threats, stressing that
patience in some cases aimed to preserve the citizens rights, adding the
judiciary settled thousands of cases discreetly.
Khoury and the chairman of the prosecution committee magistrate, Tareq Ziade, will head to
the judicial palace in the Metn town of Jdeideh on Thursday, as part of a tour of judicial
palaces across the country. Khoury will also meet with the board of directors of the
Beirut Bar Association, on Wednesday, Feb. 4, to discuss joint judicial cases.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Beiruts one-court magistrate, Hani Hbal, issued 62 verdicts
with respect to violations of the offer and promotion of meat sold recently, without the
seal of Beiruts slaughterhouse. The verdicts also charged violators with selling
spoiled meat and neglecting international health standards and hygiene laws in a series of
The verdicts sentenced violators from 10 days to one month of imprisonment and the payment
of a fine amounting to LL600,000. With AFP