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August 23, 2004

Lebanonwire

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Economy expert Rudy Baroudi released on bail

Economy expert Rudy Baroudi, indicted on charges of being responsible for the delay in implementing a previous cabinet decision to reduce fuel prices, was released Thursday on LL100 million ($63,000) bail, AL MUSTAQBAL reported Friday. In May, the council of ministers yielded to labor and popular pressures by cutting fuel prices by an amount equivalent to the Value Added Tax (VAT) imposed on 20 liters of fuel. However, an implementation of this decision was delayed for one week sparking popular criticism. The energy ministry, along with its minister Ayyoub Homayed, and his former advisor Majed Constantine along with Baroudi, were reportedly responsible for the delay.

The paper said that Constantine was still being held under investigation after First Investigative Judge in Mount Lebanon Joseph Azzi refused a call by his lawyers to release him. Finance Minister Fuad Siniora accused Homayed of taking his time to sign the go ahead letter, which he was supposed to issue immediately to the Higher Customs Council, to enforce the new fuel prices. He charged that the delay gave oil trader and merchants a margin to make additional financial gains.

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